Friday, March 28, 2014

What's Going On

Hey there. It's been pretty busy over here! Not only have I been working away on shop stuff, but we also have had some major home repairs and projects (hooray for tearing out ceilings of lathe and plaster!...not) and having family time of course. :)

My husband was on tv to play a couple of his new songs and I got to hang out at the station with him. Television stations are very interesting and it was a neat experience. 

I have also worked on some new art pieces and started a new line of hair accessories and brooches! 

"The Master & Margarita" inspired self-portrait.

A few of my new hair clips or brooches...I can turn them into either one!

Husband soundchecking at the tv station.

Me checking out the studio.

Look at us, we're news anchors!
(No, I'm not really that tall. My chair was high and his was low.)

Views around my workshop.

More sights around my workshop.

And for my international homies:
Hear ye, hear ye!

I hope everyone has a great weekend!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

A spring dessert (adapted to vegan)

Daylight savings makes such a difference! Even though we are still having sub-freezing temps on most days, just having the lightness stay later makes it feel as if spring is surely right around the bend.

We've been making some dietary changes in our house to deal with some health issues. We've eliminated all meat and dairy products (eggs too), except for fish and seafood. I have to say I feel much better and "lighter" and am looking forward to light, fresh meals especially as we head into the warmer months. 

I'm a huge fan of Daytona over at Outside Oslo. My husband is part Swedish and I love to add cultural dishes from our heritage into the weekly repertoire. Recently she posted a dessert recipe that made my mouth water, lemon riskrem with raspberries. Doesn't that just make you want to jump for joy with feelings of spring?!?

Her recipe is absolute perfection as is and I highly recommend it! Lemon-Scented Riskrem (Rice Cream) with Raspberry Sauce

I wanted to make it vegan though and came pretty close! So here is what I did....

Instead of using whole milk I used sweetened vanilla almond milk, which also meant I could skip the sugar and vanilla bean ( I was feeling a little lazy). 

For the whipped cream I used a can of full fat coconut milk and 2 Tablespoons of powdered sugar. It took a bit more whipping than dairy cream to form peaks but after several minutes in the kitchen aid it came together quite nicely. The coconut also adds a lovely flavor I think.

I used mixed berries instead of just raspberries because that's what I had.

At the end I ended up messing up and not letting the rice cool enough before adding in the cream which of course liquified my lovely coconut cream, stupid mistake but this is what happens when the baby is crying and there is chaos of boys and dog and cat etc. So my final dessert doesn't look as pretty as Daytona's but it tasted A-mazing!

I hope you'll try this whether you make the original version or my vegan adaptation. It's super lovely and kid/husband approved ;)

Enjoy that sunshine!!!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Our Leprechaun Trap Cake

The kids and I had a great time making this Leprechaun Trap Cake from Not Martha!

Our cake! <3

Our measured quantities of colored dough in sandwich baggies for easy piping into the pan.

When we cut off the top of the cake (which ends up being the bottom), we saw that the purple and white didn't "make the cut" (heh...little joke there), as well as some of the blue. At this point I was sort of wondering how the inside would look and if we had totally messed up the rainbow.

Mmmmm rainbows...

I made my mom's easy icing for the crumb coat and an almost-as-easy cream cheese frosting with stuff we had on hand (cream cheese, butter, vanilla extract, and powdered sugar...and lots of green food coloring of course).

I used Wilton tip 233 to make the "grass". Boy were my hands tired.

Adding the grass over the crumb coat.

Our trap door over the hole.

Sign by Miss S.

The finished product, complete with pretzel ladder and gold coin bait.

While their dad and I were making dinner and they were playing in their room, a leprechaun apparently snuck into the kitchen, stole the gold coin, and narrowly escaped before we saw him; his little golden shoe was stuck between two of the sticks on the trap door! We also found footprints in the frosting!

The girls had a good time searching all over the kitchen for evidence of the leprechaun, and Miss S said she was going to take the little shoe to her crime lab.

One of the best parts for me was when we cut the cake and WOOHOO the rainbow was there!! We were all very excited. 

Not a great photo, but yayayay do you see that rainbow??

What a fun cake to make! Thanks to Not Martha for a super awesome idea. Happy St. Patrick's Day, everyone!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

March is ugly.

March is ugly.

March is officially the ugliest month of the year, especially here in Chicago.  This has been an exceptionally brutal winter (the worst since I've been alive, they tell me) and we've had more snow in the past few months than I can remember over the past 5 years.

...and March is when it ALLLL MELTS.

Everything is still dead or hibernating.  
Exhaust fumes and debris have turned the beautiful winter wonderland into a cold, grey, melting lump of half-ice, half-soot sludge.  Your car has a layer of salt and mud covering it and puddles of melting snow camouflage pot holes big enough to take out a front axle.  

Our Marches are grey, cold, and depressing...

...but I've decided to fall in line with nature this March.
It's time to get muddy, to begin to plant new roots, and start to wake up.

Truth be told, I'm TERRIBLE at New Year's Resolutions.  I'm also terrible at starting anything new in the middle of summer, say around my birthday and such.

I'm AWESOME at transition seasons though.
Spring Ahead
Fall Back
Spring Cleaning
Running in the Fall
and new in 2014:  getting back into weight watchers.

I lost all my baby weight and then some back in 2006 on weight watchers.  Any plan where I can budget my day to include a vanilla ice cream cone is where it's at, for sure.  So in addition to my return to smart food choices, I'm also taking my vitamins, drinking my water and I've been using a fantastic skin care routine (another post for another day, pals).

Yes, it's cold and damp outside.
Yes, the pretty white snow has melted into soot-covered ice puddles.
and YES, my daily walk just ended with me ankle deep in mud.

but ya know what they say,

and I'm ready to bloom.

First Day of Spring (Break) + How to Make Bird Feeders Out of Magnolia Pods

Wow, yesterday was so busy and fun! I'm really enjoying being with the kids, as this is the first spring break I can remember that I have been able to stay home with them! So exciting and wonderful. ^_^

Yesterday was in the 70's outside, so we played and worked outside almost the entire day. We planted some plants, did some raking, picked up sticks, and cleaned up our yard a bit. But as for Miss G's very favorite of the things we did yesterday, we made gazillions and gazillions (or it seemed like it) of bird feeders and also created a "Birdland" in our backyard (and a mini one in our front yard).  We had soooo much fun. 
We found a "wormy" while planting our new blueberry plant!

Colorful yarn we put out for the birds to make nests

Getting ready to start seeds to grow food!

Our new Himalayan plant for our outdoor table

Fancy bird food - hangers and a cake to welcome spring
For the first batch of bird feeders, we used two cookie cutters, a fancy schmancy jello mold, and this recipe: Darling Little Birdseed Cakes. The recipe uses unflavored gelatin, boiling water (thanks, electric kettle), and bird food, mixed until it is a good consistency. We filled the cookie cutters up half way, tied a piece of twine together, and placed the twine loop inside of the bird food with the knot inside. Then, while one of us held the twine in place, we filled it up the rest of the way. These sat out on the counter for the rest of the day and had set by the evening. We are going to put these out today!

For the hanging bird feeders that we made a bunch of, I improvised. I know a lot of people cover pine cones in peanut butter and then roll them in bird seed. Well we don't have any pine cones, but we do have a ton of magnolia pods all over the ground under our big magnolia tree. They are pine cone-ish, so why not. We tied twine and yarn to one, covered it in peanut butter, and then rolled it in bird seed. It worked! So we made, as I mentioned, "a gazillion" of them. 
Magnolia pods lined up to get string, peanut butter, and bird seed.

"Birds like bright colors, Mom, so mine are going to have this yarn." - Miss G

Rolling in the birdseed

Then Miss G, who was extremely, EXTREMELY excited about feeding the birds, had the idea that we make a bird sanctuary in our backyard. By this time we had already hung a bunch of these feeders in the trees in our front yard and on our porch, but the backyard was really going to be the big spot for birds. So we strung a line in a corner of our yard and hung a bunch of the feeders on it. Let me tell you; the squirrels love it. ;)
Yes, we need to continue raking our yard.
"Birdland" with makeshift birdbath

Our bird home decorating basket
The girls made signs telling the birds that there is bird food for eating and water for their baths and drinking, and placed them in Birdland. We are going to check everything we did and see if anything has been eaten.

We ended the day with this amazing recipe for dinner (Tex Mex Spaghetti Squash with Black Bean Guacamole), which Eryn recommended, and I can't thank her enough! Sooooo good.

Later on, Husband and I were sitting on the porch swing enjoying a beer and the nice weather, and a crazed rabbit came bounding through our yard, stopped in front of us and snorted loudly (sneezed?), and took off down the way. Unreal!

All in all, a wonderful day! ^_^
Signs of spring!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Pre-Spring Cleaning + Etsy Stuff/Art

I have been on a major possession-binge. A decluttering, cleaning, and organizing kick. We have too much crap and I'm ready for spring to get here so I can open the windows and really clean everything in the house!

But meanwhile, I have also been making a few new art pieces and I also have a sale going on at the shop. 


Variations on my original drawing...for sale in my shop!

A little drawing I did while waiting in the car of our cats as a metal band.

Check it out! ^_^

Busy busy, busy! What have you been up to?