Friday, March 29, 2013

a crafty Friday! an Easter wreath!

I know I promised you an Easter-y recipe today in Tuesday's post, but I must confess, I didn't have all of the ingredients ready to go, and didn't bake last night, as intended. Alas, you will get it next week, and think of it this week, the Easter candy will be on sale! Yes, that is a hint as to what is in the cookies....any guesses???

So, for today, I am sharing the Easter egg wreath that I made last year! Easiest thing ever! I bought a styrofoam wreath form from Joann Fabrics for about $8 (use a coupon for a deal!), and then two bags of plastic colored eggs. I covered the wreath with off-white colored batting material that I use when quilting, as the wreath itself was an ugly green color, and I didn't want that peeking through! Then, I glued the eggs all over it, in no particular pattern! Oh, and before the eggs went on, I used a wide ribbon looped around it, so I'd be able to hang the wreath from the front door. 

Easy peasy! 

Less than an hour, and you have a super cute Easter wreath for your front door! 

What do you think? Do you make seasonal crafts? 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: A View I Never Tire Of

There are some advantages to living in of them being views like this. 

What is your favorite view in your city?  

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Tasty Tuesday: Cookie Creativity

Last year around this time, I bought a few boxes of Girl Scout Cookies, as I always do. I was a Girl Scout for six years when I was young, and always loved cookie season. Samoas have long been my favorite, and still are. I could eat them by the boxful. 

One night, I decided to make chocolate chip cookies, but for some reason, didn't have any chocolate chips. GASP! Aren't they a staple of every pantry?! I usually have at least one bag, but apparently hadn't bought more after using my last bag. I did, however, have a box of Samoas....hmmmmm, I thought.

So, I chopped those babies up and put them in my cookie dough! 

Obviously my cookie technique and form might need some work (also demonstrated here, with my attempt at hamantaschen), but you must trust me when I tell you how delicious they were! I'll share another creative cookie recipe with you later this week, just in time for Easter this weekend......

What is your most creative cookie idea that you've made? Was it successful?  

Monday, March 25, 2013

Monday Montage: a weekend in photos

Well, it seems that Monday is here again, eh? It always seems to sneak up so quickly! I also woke up to snow in DC, which was lovely, despite it being the end of March (already?!). On Saturday, I did some grocery shopping and brought home a few bunches of daffodils. They sure do brighten things up, I think. 

On Sunday, I drove to the suburbs of Philadephia to do a little quilt shop hop with a friend. We found the most delightful bakery for breakfast. We chatted with the owner, a charming Frenchman about his shop, and he brought us each a raspberry macaron to try! Then, my breakfast came with a croissant. I love the plate too. 

We managed to visit four shops in the afternoon, and I saw this on the wall in one of them, our last stop of the day. I just love it, and might want to make one someday. 

We're so glad to call you a friend. 

How was your weekend? Any photos? 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: View from the Top

We spent a lovely Saturday afternoon at my favorite winery in Virginia, Bluemont Vineyard

While my buddy Connor is a bit too young to enjoy their wines, he can certainly appreciate the spectacular view from their porch.  

How was your St. Patrick's Weekend? 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Tuesday Treats: Hamantaschen

Are you familiar with hamantaschen

They are a triangular-shaped cookie with a sweet filling, most often eaten during the Jewish holiday of Purim. 

I tried making them a few weeks ago, and as you can see, they are not exactly triangular! My high school geometry teacher would not be so impressed! 

They were, however, delicious. 

Stay tuned, I will post my recipe next week! 

Have you tried baking anything new this week? Share! 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Rabbit and the Apple

A few weeks ago, I met Jessica Goudeau for a late-night coffee.  The director of Hill Country Hill Tribers, I wanted to pick her brain about her work with Burmese refugees in her community as I seek to start a similar project in my area through Scarlet Threads.  We ended up talking late into the night about adoption, China, refugees, mothering, and the ways orange soda and spicy cheetos seem to have global appeal. 

After telling her my chief struggle with Scarlet Threads is the way we communicate its message, she asked me to write for her Questions of Travel Series... It took me a while, but I was finally able to give voice to the tension I feel.  I hope you'll take a moment to read this... Scarlet Threads is most definitely a work-in-progress led by a woman who learns from her mistakes, and while I'm afraid that there are many things we have done poorly, I want to invite you on the journey as we seek to better fulfill our mission of Work. Dignity. Beauty.


The rusty iron gate, plastered with peeling Chinese New Year greetings, creaked open and it was like I’d never been gone at all. I stepped inside her courtyard and part of me felt like I was home. It’d been two years since I’d walked the narrow streets of this tiny little village on the outskirts of Beijing, but it was like I’d never left. I wiped my feet and ducked in as she held back the thick green blanket that served as an insulating door to her home. The warmth immediately enveloped me… The clean scent of clothes drying over radiators filled the room, and as drops of moisture sizzled and popped on the hot grates, it added a much-needed touch of humidity to the dry winter air. Sunlight streamed through the broad windows in her 四合院 (sìhéyuàn); a traditional Chinese courtyard home carefully arranged to take full-advantage of the fleeting winter sun with windows positioned to soak in warmth as long as possible.

Deng immediately pulled back my jacket to peer at my waist. “Too thin!” she exclaimed, but a broad smile was sweeping across her face, and really I knew she was just welcoming me home. For the last several years, we had worked together… she the lead seamstress, me (along with my brave sister-in-law Eileen) the leader-of-everything-else of a small fair trade sewing cooperative, Scarlet Threads, we’d founded while living 4 years in rural China. She kneeled down with excitement to meet my pint-sized shadow. My two-year-old daughter made this trip with me, coming back to her birthplace to see the people who shaped our lives in the years leading up to her arrival. We left when she was one month old. I still have the carefully pieced blanket made by Deng, thick with warmth and love, given to me a few weeks before my baby was born in that harsh Beijing winter.

Read the rest here...

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

(almost) Wordless Wednesday: a good book

There are few things I love more than a brand-new book that I've been dying to read, and being cozied up in a quilt with a cup of tea. 

The latest book from Jodi Picoult, The Storyteller, came out last week and I was lucky enough to be one of the first to borrow it from the library.  

I flew home to NH this past weekend for a quick trip, and pretty much devoured it on the flight up and back, and then partly after breakfast.  

I really enjoyed this book. Keep an eye out for a book review soon! I'd love to share my thoughts with you, and hear yours as well, if you've read it. 

What's the best book you've read recently?  

Do you read Jodi Picoult's novels? 

Do you like when we have book talks? 

Any suggestions as to what I should read next? 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Tasty Tuesday: Asian-Spiced Mini Meatballs with Vermacelli Noodles

I have so many cookbooks, but I fear that I don't use them as often as I should these days. At work, I will sometimes take short breaks to check out pinterest, and have found so many amazing recipes there. Recently, I saw one for Asian-Spiced Mini Meatballs with Vermacelli Noodles, and it sounded just wonderful. I had most of the ingredients already, so I quickly decided to make them for dinner that night!

As always, I altered the recipe a bit. I always make a few tweaks here and there, to make it more to my taste! The original recipe called for ground pork, which I didn't have, and couldn't find, so I used ground turkey instead, and it was terrific.

Here is the recipe, as instructed:

Asian-Spiced Mini Meatballs Over Vermicelli Noodles:
What it took for 4:

* 1 pound ground pork sausage
* 2 tsp Chinese 5-Spice
* 2 cloves garlic, minced
* 1 Tbs. freshly minced ginger root
* 1 Tbs. olive oil
* 4 bundles vermicelli noodles
* 3 Tbs soy sauce
* 2 Tbs. water
* juice from a lime
* 1 Tbs. brown sugar
* 1 tsp fish sauce
* 1 tsp sambal oelek
* 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
* 2 scallions, finely sliced
* cilantro (for garnish)

In a bowl, combine the sausage, Chinese 5-Spice, garlic and ginger. Mix with your hands until fully combined, and then form 15 to 20 mini meatballs out of the mixture. Set aside.
Heat a Tbs. of oil in large skillet over medium heat. Brown the meatballs on all sides and cook through, probably 10 minutes. Do this in batches if you need to!

In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce through the 2 Tbs. olive oil. Pour into a small saucepan and simmer on low for a few minutes.

In the meantime, cook the vermicelli noodles in boiling water until al dente, maybe 3 minutes. Transfer the noodles into the soy dressing and toss to combine.

Serve noodles topped with the meatballs and garnish with scallions and cilantro!

My edits:

Again, I used turkey instead of pork.

I couldn't find the sambal oelek at my grocery store.

I also added asparagus spears to it. Asparagus makes almost anything better, I think!

I should have used more spices though. Usually I am very generous with them, but this time, I wasn't, and should have been!

I didn't use the scallions. 

I used soba noodles instead of vermacelli. 

A few photos....

My mini meatballs cooking! 

Making the au jus (love that expression!). 

The final product!

This was a great meal. Steve and I really enjoyed it, and he said I'd have to make it again soon, which I haven't yet, haha. Next time, I'd add more spices, and I'd also look for the ground pork, to see how the flavors might be a bit different. I like to switch things up when I make recipes! It keeps things interesting that way.

What's cooking in your kitchen tonight?

Monday, March 4, 2013

Monday Montage: Weird Foods with Lexi

I saw these snack-sized bags at CVS last week. I almost bought all three, but didn't.  Confession; I tend to like weird flavored chips, I will admit, but I'm not too sure about these!  

Has anyone seen these in your local grocery store or drug store? Have you tried any of them? Were they good? What is the weirdest chip flavor you've ever had? What did you think? Should I try these?