Tuesday, July 29, 2008

I drew some paperdoll figures for my boyfieind's 5 year old, Nadia. She loved these! She and her Sister Mila (3) colored them in, and then Nadia and I punched holes in them to attach all the parts with brads. I recommend using a 1/8" or 1/16" hole punch and corresponding brads. Normal (1/4") brads are too large. You should be able to right click on the image below, and print or save to your computer in their full size. Enjoy!

On my Walkway...

Was running from the car to the house having forgotten something, when I looked down and saw this stain on the walkway. It looks like a skull to me...kind of spooky so I took a quick pic on the way back to the car. In Richmond, Ca. Jesus doesn't show up on the sidewalk, but random skeletal heads do!
Since I've been making so much jam, I though I'd try something a little different and make Mango Jam. I just received a new cookbook on canning and used a recipe from it. This is the first time I've used pectin, and I have to say I wasn't so impressed. I was reluctant to add anything besides fruit, sugar and lemon juice, but every recipe in this book uses pectin and the author swears by it.

The jam looks great, but I don't think it cooked long enough, so its a bit chunky and thin. It tastes great. I had to modify the recipe entirely by cutting the sugar in half, adding more fruit and tripling the lemon and lime juices.

It too made its way onto buttermilk biscuits, which made Nadia very happy!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Filoli House

MJ and I visited the Filoli House for her birthday. I had visited the Muckross House in Killarney Ireland last year, and it was my favorite thing on the trip. The Muckross House was purchased by the owners of Filoli, the Bourn's, for their daughter as a wedding gift. The Grand Ballroom at Filoli is painted with murals of the Muckross Estate. I was curious to see the connections between the two estates, and Filoli lived up to expectation.

This tree was beautiful, massive in size with drooping branches that touched the brick walk beneath it.

There are many gardens at Filoli. This patch of lavender was among my favorite.

Not too shabby, huh?

I loved this French bicycle parked in the shaded path.

My ideal kitchen. One of two adjacent kitchens inside the Filoli House.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Gocco Workshop

Taught Gocco Printed Tea Towels today at the^workshop. Everyone did such a great job, and made so many beautiful things. People mostly printed on vintage and thrift store finds, so results for each fabric was different. I've posted a pretty comprehensive instruction sheet below for how to instructions on Gocco printing. You can also check out pics on flickr and more info on the save gocco website.

Gocco Printing Process

  • Make sure you have batteries in your machine and fresh bulbs in the lightbox.
  • To install bulbs simply place bulbs (2) into opening and lock into place by twisting clockwise. Set aside lightbox until you are ready to expose your image.
  • Take your original carbon drawing or laser photocopy and place face up on the sticky gray pad. You can close the lid of the machine and look through the window to see if your image is centered.
  • Once image is in place, place a fresh (unexposed) screen into the slots, arrow facing down. If you are using a photocopy, place the blue filter over the screen (between the screen and the lightbox, not the screen and the photocopy).
  • Click your lightbox into place, without pressing down on the lid.
  • Once lightbox is in place, press firmly down on the lid to expose the screen
  • I close my eyes as there is a bright flash when this happens.
  • Remove lightbox and throw away bulbs. You might want to wash your hands too.
  • Remove photocopy, screen and filter.
  • Apply ink to freshly exposed screen.
  • Ink should go on thick and last for several dozen impressions.You can reapply ink as needed. Do not press or poke ink tube into the screen while applying ink. This will tear your screen.
  • Place inked screen back into its holder, arrows facing down.
  • Place paper, fabric etc onto the gray screento print (align as needed)
  • Press down on the lid (like you did when exposing the bulbs). Now you’ve printed!
  • Repeat impressions, and reapply ink as needed.

Clean up

  • Use a paper towel to remove excess ink from screen (or squeegee off to save).
  • Apply gocco cleaner to the screen like you did with the ink. Rub Gocco cleaner over surface of screen in circular motion with paper towel to remove excess ink and clean screen.
  • Your screen will still look inked, but you should be able to see the image if held up to the light,
  • Do not use solvents to clean your screen.
  • You can also place screens in the fridge/freezer to use later without having to clean them. Just thaw before use.

  • If your screen dries and wont print baby wipes seem to do the trick. Simply wipe down the prining side of the screen (not the inked side). You will have to print several throw away tests to remove ink swirls caused from wiping, but this seems to work best.
  • Baby Wipes are great for removing any excess or misplace ink on your machine or screen. You want to keep your workspace nest and clean or you'll wind up with unwanted ink everywhere.
  • If you notice any light spots in a print, re-ink your screen immediately. When you lift up the protective sheet to re-ink, you should be able to see exactly where ink needs to be reapplied. If you can see your image or pattern, you need ink in this spot.

Wednesday we did celebrate Mila's 3rd birthday. Mi requested cupcakes, so I made vanilla butter cupcakes with vanilla buttercream frosting. They turned out pretty good, but the recipe was not stellar enough to mention; I'll have to experiment with it a bit. Cupcakes were dusted with pink flakes a topped with fresh raspberries.

Aaron and I decorated the sidewalk from the street to our door with birthdays wishes and greetings. We drew a faux carpet up to our door with both the girls' initials at the steps.

Mila also asked for a pair of flamingo pj's (which she wore for 2 days). They were pink and green, hence the wrapping paper theme. And the dollhouse was the hit of the evening. It was a pretty good Party.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Wednesday Morning

Wednesday morning. Mila's 3rd Bday, although I'm not sure I get the privilege of seeing her or her sister today. I have many things to do... potential job interview, make cupcakes, decorate, wrap presents, finish dollhouse people. No jam this morning, although I'd welcome a process like that over the uncertainty of today. Instead, I will focus on the smaller tasks, of which there are many, and hope that by this evening I will be celebrating with my boyfrield and his girls.

My house keeps growing. At first it was just me. Now (and for sometime) there is my boyfriend, and two small beings. Other things grow too, like my collections. A picture of tins above my spice cabinet. Twice as many tins as in the picture I took when I had just started this blog. This space is good, but seems to become increasingly smaller with every day. Too much and not enough at the same time.

If I finish doll people I will post a pic of them later.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Santa Rosa Plum Preserves

I am definitely on a jamming streak. I love the process of canning fruit and making jam! Today was Santa Rosa plums purchased from Monterey Market instead of picked like the apricots. The plums themselves were delicious, and their flavor didn't change terribly once made into jam. I used the recipe from the apricot preserves and just swapped the fruit.
I used about 10 0r 11 lbs plums (skinned and pitted), 3 cups sugar, 5 tbs lemon juice and lemon zest.
The plums shed their skin in the boiling water much quicker than the apricots did. Once skinned and pitted, the plums were tossed in a pot to boil with the sugar and lemon juice. A mass of plum pulp, not so appetizing at this stage.

This batch yielded 8- 8oz. jars of plum preserves!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Doll House for Mila

Working on a dollhouse for my Boyfriend's daughter's 3rd Bday. I started with a wooden blank house (purchased from Michaels) and have painted the outside and wallpapered the inside.

This is the bookshelf inside the attic. The girls (Mila soon to be 3, and Nadia 5 1/2) love to be told stories and read to, so this is an important addition to the dollhouse.

I wanted the house to have a whimsical feel, so the colors are very little girlish and the painting is loose. The sides of the house are painted like brick, the front has ivy with flowers, and the roof is scalloped like singles, but all pink

I chose a paper for the inside that is also loosely painted and has soft colors.

Mila requested cupcakes for her birthday, so the kitchen is set with miniature cupcakes to celebrate.

I've used furniture from a dollhouse I had when I was a kid. Good dollhouse people are hard to find (they are all blonde) so this is one I had, and I'm sculpting the others from this weird soft modeling clay made by crayola. Its white, very light and feels like you're sculpting with Divinity candy.

I'll post some pics of the people once they are dry and painted. I think she'll like it!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Tonight was I enjoyed yet another Indian feast. My boyfriend is trying out a bunch of new recipes. Above is a Thai dessert, sticky rice with coconut sauce and mango. Delicious!

Chana Daal fried patties. A sort of Indian Falafel.

A dinner of Goan Bhindi or okra with cashew vinegar sauce accompanied by basmati and chana daal patties.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Had the morning to myself (boyfriend and girls were at preSchool) so thought I'd make good use of my time. It was nice to have a focus for a couple of hours. The canning process wasn't so bad, although I could have used another set of hands, but removing the skin from the apricots was a very laborious process! The jam turned out beautifully and I had to make biscuits because what else am I going to do with all of this jam? In the end, I wound up taking warm biscuits and jam to my boy and the girls at preschool. Eat your heart out Martha!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Today I picked apricots with Ellen of the^workshop. Hopefully they will make their way into jam by this evening. Ellen was a better harvester than myself, but we both wound up in the upper branches, reaching for that last bunch.

We ended up with more than 12 pounds of apricots!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Canning Take Two

So peach preserves this time. Strawberry jam had a 50% success rate, but we decided to try it again, this time with peaches! The key is letting the fruit mixture cook to the "jell point," which was not mentioned in our Strawberry jam recipe, hence 3 jars good jam and 3 jars strawberry syrup!

We used this recipe, but our peaches were really sweet, so we cut the sugar a bit and added some lemon zest too! Jam should be ready for the tasting in a day or so!!!!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Spoiled? Nah....

I came home after spending the afternoon with MJ, and found an Indian feast waiting for me! My boyfriend cooks the most delicious Indian food (despite the fact that he's a white boy from the Pacific North West). He recently purchased this amazing cook book called 660 Curries. I have been lucky enough to have eaten many mouthwatering dishes from this book without having cooked a single one myself! Tonight was cabbage with steamed lentils and pan-fried tamarind okra accompanied by Aaron' s delicious basmati which he usually seasons with cardamom and cinnamon; its light lemony and my favourite! I'm a lucky girl!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Wedding Shoes...

I'm still making paper shoes, and this pair was customized for a friend's wedding. Her colors were... can you guess?...hot pink and black. She also loves cameo style silhouettes and glitter!
This little scene was house in a glass dome.