mid-week: three good things

I am going to try to do this each week, three images of nice, good or cheerful things, to help push me through the rest of the week. Wednesdays always seem like the point to get past, and sometimes, well, a little motivation never hurt. So here goes.
One: Someone brought me magnificent flowers. And they are still blooming!

Two: New shiny shoes, note the reflection of the sequins in this pool of sunlight I found on the floor. These were one of my victorious finds at the Oakland Museum Womens Board White Elephant sale which my roommate and I lucked out in catching on it's last day, Sunday afternoon. It was a fantastic warehouse full of junk and goodies intermingled. I also got a few projects, trays to collage and a strange broken belt buckle I plan to turn into a brooch but these shoe just called out to me, in all there shiny glory. I like having fun shoes, it gives you a smile when you look down.

Three: waking up motivated to do something about the bananas going bad in the fruit bowl. Which is nice because it results in a warm batch of banana nut muffins for breakfast. And to bring in to work for some deserving fellow employees, a mid week boost spread around. Win!


new work?

So I made this box, and it is so like the ones I have made in the past (my senior show was a series of over a hundred of these Joseph Cornell inspired shadowboxes with their little three dimensional collages) It has the same re-occurring motifs' of house and twig tree, but this time with a twist. Note the floating shelves? Yes I do believe I've been looking at far too many design blogs.......oh yes.



whomever came up with bacon, i would like to thank

So my mum was coming to visit, which seems to always provoke me to aspire to cookery heights previously un-thought of. This time it was quiche, full of cheese and bacon (which I had only cooked for the first time last Sunday) and asparagus (which I had
never attempted before) as well as a dessert (strawberry tart with a chocolate/ricotta/mousse/cream filling), naturally.
The way I seem to be settling into cooking revolves around a sudden inspiration, and a lot of internet searching (i.e. how to cook asparagus, which I might add comes up with some interesting stuff) and then sort of cobbling it together from that. So I looked at several quiche recipes from which I took the bacon and asparagus idea, and basic cooking temp/time and then improvised from there. First I started out with crusts.

One for the quiche, in a pie pan, and one for the dessert, in a tart pan. Next I cooked asparagus, with butter and salt and pepper. It smelled amazing. I am so thrilled this was so easy, and I will most surely be integrating asparagus into my cooking in the future as it has now been demystified.

At the same time I was cooking the bacon and onions (full stove huh. I wish I had another arm sometimes), pre-cooking the crust, and mixing up the filling. Which was mostly egg, cream, and ricotta cheese. Oh and some grated swiss as well. This filling was concocted out of the various dairy products I had in the fridge, which just happened to be ricotta and swiss. An interesting combination and one I may not have attempted otherwise. How fortuitous.

When the asparagus, bacon and onions were all cooked, I dumped them all unceremoniously into the crust.

And then poured the filling over and baked it for half an hour, until the house smelled unbearably good and we were all drooling. And it was bubbling and the cheese was browning.
It was so good in fact, and we were so hungry that I forgot to take a photo of the finished product until it was half eaten, half gone....half left?

I would say it was a success. Thought that may be mostly due to the cheese. And the bacon. I mean how can one go wrong with such glorious ingredients?!
Oh and then there was dessert, or rather, um, first there was dessert. I mean we ate the two in the traditional order, but, due to the fact it had to chill in the fridge the tart was actually made/assembled before the quiche.
So the steps were something like this:
Fresh organic strawberries? Check.

Pre-cooked and uber buttery tart crust? Check.
Chocolate filling? Check.

At this point I spent far to many harrowing minutes slicing the strawberries into infuriatingly imperfect discs. And eventually I acknowledged my failure to make my delicious but un-traditionally shaped berries at all triangular and figured 'hey if it tastes good no one will notice the strawberries are messy' and threw them on as they were (it probably wouldn't occur to anyone but me to see the strawberries as messy at all, but I am just weird like that and wanted a certain shape of slices).

And it didn't look to shabby in the end. Chilled in the fridge while all the quiche prep and cooking and consuming took place, and then was removed, admired briefly and then eaten.

Next time more chocolate. But that's a given. Still, yum indeed.


home decorating and some experimental biscuits

I've been seeing lots of plate collections displayed on walls recently, on apartment therapy (which I follow obsessively) and several other decorating blogs and magazines. As I have a small collection, and have taken up painting plates with patterns and botanicals as an additional hobby, it seemed like it would be a good thing to try to cover one of the spots of patchy paint on our living room walls (a shoddy job was done, I would love to repaint it.....another project).
First I assembled all of my plates, including the ones I had painted and considered a few different ways of laying them out.

Then I made hangers for all the plates, using some 20g florist wire and directions from Martha Stewarts craft site.

...And started hanging them, with no particular plan.

...And Voila! a plate all, which, hopefully, I can continue adding to as my collection grows.

In other news, I made a batch of biscuits with grated cheese in them, which turned out fantastically, crisp and buttery and glorious. And I also made some orange currant scones, however, distracted by the glorious deliciousness of the biscuits, and some sweet potato fries, I left the scones in a tad to long,and so they are definatly a bit on the crisp side, but were happily consumed at their intended picnic.

And finally, here's a view of my newly tidied dining room table, with red patches where the vinyl on the chairs was wearing out, my fantastic quilt with some tin circus plates, and of course, the new place-mats.


a finished project!!!!

A little ago we had company over for dinner and only two (rather ratty looking) place-mats for the table. It occurred to me that this would not do, so I pulled out some cool fabric my roommate had printed when we were in school, which I had salvaged from her extreme fabric collection purge of the previous month, and got to work.

First, I ironed the fabric (note the cool Venus fly trap 'floral' she created) and a red sheet I don't use which would serve as the reverse side of the place-mats and using our old ones as a template, cut out the fronts and backs and ironed them a third time just in case (that fabric had been in a box for a long time you know). I was able to get three out of each color print and six place-mats seemed like a good number.

Next I turned the fabrics right sides together, and using a white china marker (makes an opaque mark on darker fabrics) I measured out the proper sized rectangles, I went with 14" by 20" but I did consider doing squares, and pinned all round the edges.

Then I sewed around the edge, leaving about a four inch opening on one of the longer sides so that I could turn them right side out. I also made a snap decision to make rounded corners, which kept the fabric from getting all bunchy.

I trimmed the extra fabric, snipped the corners so that they would lie flatter, and turned them right side out, and ironed them flat.

And the last step was to sew around the edge, once about a quarter inch from the edge, and once even closer, just to make sure that I closed up the open side. I also decided to add a heart in one corner, because I thought it would make the red side a little more interesting, should I ever decide to turn them that way.

And voila!

No longer will we be displaying so shabby a table. In fact now I have no excuse not to have a mini dinner party, though maybe first I need to make a Venus fly trap centerpiece, to match you know.