Monday, March 29, 2010

Bath bag

After a stint of pretty consistent posting you may have noticed a couple of week-long absences in the month of March.  What could I have been up to? I'm so glad you asked. Remember here when I told you about Ashley? Well she made this so I got inspired to make this:

Feel free to judge me for the bath crayon still not washed off of the shower wall. And then you can pat me on the back.  I know Emily did.  She loves it!

Thursday, March 25, 2010


Emily loves to play pretend.  What five-year-old doesn't?  The best part of Emily's pretend world sounds like this:
"Okay, mama, I called the plumber. He'll be here in ten second."

Oh Emily, if only.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Question I have no idea how to answer

"Why do I have to wear pretty panties when you don't want anyone to ever see them?"

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Calling all green thumbs!

My grandmother is an amazing gardener.  Even living in El Paso, Texas that woman can take a seed, put it in the ground, water it and get a beautiful plant.  Do you know what I get when I put a seed in some dirt and water it?  A muddy seed. Sometimes I think it might be a rock. Way back in February I bought ginger root for a cooking adventure.  The recipe called for, I think, a tablespoon of grated ginger root but that gnarled sucker could have probably given me about 4 cups.  So, I plunked it into a pot recently vacated by what might have once been aloe vera. Imagine my surprise when I ended up with this:
That sucker is now almost two feet tall. So now what do I do with it? Can it stay in the pot?  Do I put it in something bigger? Amy? Emily?  Anybody who can get horticultural results other than a muddy rock want to weigh in here?

They call me mellow yellow...

Some of you might be asking "Dear Janice, where have you been?" Don't worry, I'm still here, I've just been indescribably obsessed with this blog. Talk about living the dream! Not the dream where one has oodles of money and a vacation home in St.. Thomas - not that dream. Mrs. Limestone, from what I can tell, makes a pretty average living for a New Yorker and she has no problem putting in the time to find things that fit both her taste and budget be it side tables or excursions to exotic realms. No, no, she lives the dream of finding a home you love in place you love and putting your stamp on it.  Okay, that and the totally posh vacations she takes and shares with her readers.

Thanks to Mrs. Limestone's sweet photography skills, I have developed a new-found love for the color yellow. To be honest, I think it was Kit's chic wedding prep blog that first put the color into a favorable light for me. But now I can't stop thinking about it!

 For Entertaining:
Left and center: Brooklyn Limestone
Right: via Love, Kit 
As Decor:

Right: via  Brooklyn Limestone
via: Brooklyn Limestone 
Honestly, yellow is everywhere.  Check out some of the stuff Amy found for me to enjoy when I was craving a lemon party. Real Simple did a spread on yellow decor and I swear the color is all over fashion.  It looks like it is going to be a sunny sort of spring.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Toto, I don't think we're in Kansas anymore

And I am no longer in Central Texas. I overheard the following half of a phone conversation while walking to the bank:

"Man it was hotter'n hell up here this weekend. Must've been close to the upper 50s."


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Taking back my closet - the gray skirt edition

Big shocking announcement: I. Love. Clothes. I love to shop for them, love to buy them, love to borrow them, lend them, and, most of all, I love to wear them. I own some pretty fantastic pieces and, despite my rule about getting rid of something after a year of disuse, I have held on to more than one article of ill-fitting clothing just because it would be so perfect if...
Well no more, internet!  I have decided to take back my closet. Some things will have to be professionally tailored but others I have been inspired to fix myself thanks to my new best friend Ashley. Okay, so I've never actually met Ashley but I've taken her blog out for coffee a number of times and I'm totally smitten. Read it, she's awesome!
Okay, enough background.  I started the assault on my closet with this too-big wool skirt:
I got it the fall after I had Emily and by the next year could no longer wear it. I know, I know, curse me for losing the baby-weight. What I could not lose was this skirt.  It is an absolute work wardrobe staple so I've been wearing it with a giant safety pin along each side seam for a few years now. I was sort of afraid to have it taken in for real because, well, I'm a woman.  The weight could come back at any second thanks to bloating, or medication, or an irresistible cheesecake.   But then, I had an epiphany - elastic!
I laid out the skirt and marked off eight inches in the middle of the back waist. This is where the elastic will attach.  Then I cut a six inch piece of elastic:
Next, using a simple straight stitch, I sewed one end of the elastic onto the inside of the waistband where I'd drawn the chalk:
Note how the elastic is pointing away from the actual area it will be occupying.  that's so I can fold it over itself hiding the raw edge.

Next I made a slit in the inner fabric of the waistband where each of my chalk marks are.  By inner fabric I mean the part that sits against my skin. I then attached a large safety pin to the loose end of the elastic and began feeding it through the fabric tube that makes the waistband:
Side note: I totally missed my calling as a hand model.
Basically, you wiggle and scrunch the fabric along the safety pin and elastic until the pin pops out the other side. You can see its shiny little head peeking out on the upper right corner of this photo:
After that you pretty much just have to sew the end down and call it a day.I didn't like those slits being open and the raw edge of the elastic showing on the e3nd I didn't/couldn't fold over itself.  After I distributed the gathers evenly along the elastic I hand-sewed two (of the gathers) together on each end to hide the work I'd done.
 From the outside you can't even tell I really did anything.

I essentially took two inches off the waistband without having to actually give up the two inches.  And I can finally wear this skirt without two bulges along the sides.  Wee!

Monday, March 8, 2010

You used to be much more...muchier. You've lost your muchness.

Guess what Em and I saw yesterday.

It's no fun if you don't guess....

It was simply wonderful...

...and you'd be mad to miss it...

Oh it was really quite good and I'm so glad Emily begged me to take her to see Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland.  After the Christmas Carol fiasco, I was afraid it would be too scary for her, but she liked it as well.

Alice in Wonderland is something of a misnomer since I think a large portion of the plot came from Through the Looking Glass. I'm sure purists will poopoo it all over the place, but I am not a purist. In fact, I'm almost positive Lewis Carroll made his stories purposefully uncomfortable so after reading them initially, I haven't been eager to return to the book.  Don't get me wrong, this newest iteration captures the sort of stark raving beauty I always imagined Wonderland would have. But I like creepy whimsical things. Besides so many things other people find sensible do not make sense to me  and I live with a five-year-old so nonsense is somewhat of a norm and this movie just fit right in. I literally felt like my head had been sucked into the movie and it wasn't until Emily started wiggling her way into a snuggle position that I realized I had been leaning forward ever since Alice fell down the rabbit hole.

For the first time in a long time I left a movie feeling ready to conquer the world. I'm pretty sure Emily just want me to conquer the making of Alice's dress.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Great Lemon Meringue Fail

Emily is fond of Amelia Bedelia. Perhaps you remember this precious character from your own childhood?

And what should Amelia Bedelia be carrying but the lemon meringue pie that won over her irate employers Mr. and Mrs. Rogers. Amelia Bedelia messed up pretty bad on her first day of work for the Rogers so, to Emily, that pie must've been something spectacular. She had to have one.  Could I pretty please make her a lemon meringue pie?

I am actually really fond of LM pie myself, particularly my grandmother's. I wrote off asking for the recipe and my sweet-as-pie grandmother obliged:

Sugar, 1 1|2 cups
Cornstarch, 7 tablespoons
Salt, 1|4 teaspoon
Water, 2 cups
Eggs,separated, 3
Butter, 2 tablespoons
Grated lemon rind, 2 teaspoons
Lemon juice,1|3 cup
Reserve 6 tablespoons of the sugar for the meringue. Combine remaining sugar, cornstarch and salt in top of a double boiler. Stir in water. Cook over boiling water until thickened, stirring constantly. Cover and cook for 15 minutes longer . Stir a little of the hot mixture into slightly beaten egg yolks; add to remaining hot mixture in top of double boiler and cook for 2 minutes over hot water. Add butter; cool add lemon ring and juice. Pour into baked shell. Cover with meringue made from egg whites and reserved sugar plus 1|4 teaspoon of cream of tarter. Bake in 325 oven about 15 minutes or until lightly browned.
This is from my old cookbook, however I usually buy Jello Lemon Pudding Mix following directions on box adding a little lemon juice to the required water plus some butter. I usually grate the lemon rind and add it to the meringue instead of putting it in the filling. Good luck on whatever you try. Love you, Grandmother 
(I had to leave her "Love you" in the recipe because you need that to really make the pie.)
I ended up using the "scratch" version because I think I got the wrong kind of pudding. After A LOT of stirring and some other baking moves I got this:
Sadly, my meringue overflowed all into the bottom of the oven and wasn't so much fluffy as flat. I had to all but beat Emily's little fingers away from that pie while it cooled enough for me to cut it.
 Despite the flat meringue, Emily's slice looked pretty tasty to me.
 After days of begging me to make this pie and hours of begging to eat the pie, Emily was approaching it rather absently.

Ad then it hit Em.

She looks like I just played the dirtiest trick on her! Jolted from her TV-watching, she very slowly pulled the fork out of her mouth. "Does this have lemons in in?!"

Yes, Em, Amelia Bedelia's delicious confection contains lemons. That is why they call it lemon meringue pie. 

Thursday, March 4, 2010

From the mouths of babes

Have you ever listened to a popular song and wondered exactly what made it so popular?  I mean, there is a lot of stuff out there that sucks. I think Emily has the key...
J: Baby, do you want me to get you the new Nick Jonas CD since you like him so much?
E: No.
J: No? Why not?
E: Beca-ause. Its not his music that matters.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Adventures in Cooking: Kumquat Marmalade

Some time in the past few months I decided I was going to eat more local and more seasonal foods. It has been a pretty interesting ride and a rather enjoyable one. One of my new favorite "winter" recipes is Kumquat Marmalade.  First of all, kumquats are incredibly cute.  Second, it is the funnest food name to pronounce.  Go on...say it. See? You want to smile. Sadly, I have not yet met a kumquat that I have enjoyed eating raw.  They have an edible outside rind that is incredibly thin and sweet.  However, the inside, often described as tart, is usually really bitter. Oh well, I didn't know any of this when I found the marmalade recipe so I gave it a whirl:
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
12 ounces kumquats (smile), rinsed, cut into 1/4 inch rounds, and seeds removed
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns, coarsely crushed
1/4 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary, plus one small sprig

1. In a saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the water and sugar and stir occasionally until the sugar has dissolved. Add the kumquats (smile), peppercorns, and fresh rosemary sprig. Stir to mix, making sure to bury the rosemary int he fruit.

2. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, until the kumquats (smile) are translucent and the liquid has reduced to the consistency of thin syrup.

3. Remove from the heat and discard the sprig of rosemary (and any needles that may have separated). Add the chopped rosemary and set aside to cool.

Eat as soon as it is cool or keep in the refrigerator for several weeks.

I had mine on toasted Italian country bread with goat cheese.
As you can see, I couldn't even wait to take the photo before I dug in.  Emily was less than impressed although I think that is due in part to us trying the kumquats (smile) before making the marmalade.  Their bitterness (or tartness or whatever) means the marmalade has a sweetness that doesn't make your teeth hurt.  It is a really nice change from store bought.  I made it again for an FRG party and it was a hit. I think I might make it for Christmas gifts next year.

If you want to check out the original recipe and photos go here. I want to make sure proper credit is given where it should be, but I also blog the actual recipe in case my blog sticks around for several years but the link expires.

Any-who....TaDa! Another beginner cooker recipe. Wee! 

Edited:This is also awesome on pancakes, though still not a hit with the kiddo.