Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween 2009- Chocolate Chip Cookie Costumes

Halloween is not my favorite holiday. I never really wanted to make my kids constumes because it seemed like you could get whatever you wanted for a reasonable price. I feel like making a princess dress would take me a lot longer and cost me more than the $30 it costs to buy one. This year I found the perfect Annie dress for Talia at a thrift store and even found red/orange hair dye. I figured that would be easy and she was on board. Then my sister asked me to make my niece Marley a cookie treat bag to carry with her Cookie Monster costume. I made the mistake of bringing Talia with me to buy the fabric and she said she wanted to be a cookie and match with Alex for Halloween. I basically had the kids lay down on the polarfleece fabric and then I drew a circle around them. I fused on the chocolate chips on and the appliqued a cute swirl pattern on them. Sewed the two pieces together leaving the neck and the bottom open for legs. I think the key element was cutting the arm holes into the front of the fabric, which I just did with the costumes already on the kids. I googled some images for advice and noticed that all the M&M costumes had this done. On my own I would have left the armholes in the side seams. I tried to sew boning into the seams to make it seem more round but it didn't look better, it looked worse and stiff too.

Of course Talia ended up not wanting to wear the cookie costume and went as Cinderella (again) to the Halloween parade and party at school yesterday. All day today she wore her Cinderella costume and then at the last minute she wanted to be the cookie. I recognize that Halloween is a holiday for kids and I shouldn't be personally invested in what my kids wear. She said this morning, "Well, if you really want me to be a cookie I will..." and I told her that it really didn't matter to me and she could be whatever she wanted. Secretly I was really happy she chose the cookie. I wore an apron and a chef's hat and carried a spatula and we got many many compliments on our attire. Whew!
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Tuesday, October 28, 2008


What's funny is that most people think I encourage so much art at my house because I have some desire to fill my home with creativity. The truth is that I'm really only looking for a few minutes to myself. I choose art (or more likely, crafts) because it's really all I know how to do. I try to get my kids set up with a project and then leave them alone. Hopefully they will leave me alone too. This has always worked well for Talia but not so much with Alex. Alex eats crayons, markers and playdough. His attention span is about 5 minutes and the setup and cleanup take at least 10 times that.

Certain projects do warm my heart. I really enjoy watching Talia get into anything sewing or fabric related. We've tried stitching before. She really needed my help every step of the way. We were trying to stitch fabric scraps onto a base fabric. T kept getting all tangled with it. That was a few months ago. This time I heat set an image she picked out (from Sublime Stitching) onto a handkerchief and she went to town. She never got turned around with it at all-- amazing! I got her started and then let her go. She used a real needle (with many needle-pricks to prove it) and real embroidery floss. She was extremely determined and sat for a long time with very little intervention. Alex was napping, of course. She was quite proud of her work. As a matter of fact, when I took this picture I asked her what she was doing and she said, "just looking" which she proceeded to do for quite some time. She has not, however, expressed interest in creating another embroidery masterpiece.

Where did I get the idea to make handkerchiefs you may ask? Talia is constantly picking her nose and eating it. I sewed her a few flannel handkerchiefs and embroidered her a few. She carries one all the times now and actually uses it. Often she will pick her nose with her finger and then put it in the handkerchief but hell, 1 out of 2 isn't bad! Major improvement!
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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Another library / bookshelf quilt

I finished my mother-in-law's 60th birthday quilt. It's similar to the one I made my own mother almost two years ago. That was the quilt that "got me back into quilting" after a 2 1/2 year break. I've really imporved my skills since then! Now that I have two kids I don't have time to make a huge quilt but I needed to incorporate at least three pictures into the quilt. It was hard to fit it all into a manageable size. Those photos are 4X6 and I think the whole quilt is about 55 to 55 inches wide and about 18 inches high. There are some cute details-- the flowers are made out of yo-yo's with buttons from my grandmother's collection (actually after taking this photo I added a few more flowers) and I got one of those tools that adds rhinestones so I added a few of those too. The "books" are lightly quilted and the background is heavily quilted, about every 1/2 inch. I'm glad I finally got it done because I'm really behind on another one and I have many many small projects I want to do!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Apple Picking

We went apple picking this weekend with my in-laws. I've been pretty loyal to honeycrisp apples for the past 3 or 4 years but I have to say these Jonagolds are really delicious too. Of course, what the hell am I supposed to do with them all? My mother-in-law and I split the 12 pound bag but that's still a lot of apples. I can't see my family eating more than 2 or 3 per day and I think that's really pushing it. I threw 3 pounds into the crockpot to make applesauce but I'm not particularly fond of applesauce. Alex seems to like it in a general way so I hope to feed it to him. On the other hand, he will work at a plain apple for a while so why would I give him the messier, more sugary choice? It was a fun experience to pick them; I don't think I have ever done that before.
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Monday, October 20, 2008

What We're Eating: Garbage Salad

I suspect "Garbage Salad" isn't the most appetizing name for this most delicious dish. The garbage part just refers to the fact that I take whatever vegetables I have in the fridge and throw them in. This week it was a mix of greens-- some from the CSA, some from the supermarket, tomatoes from my garden, a green pepper and cucumber I found in the fridge as well as carrots and kohlrabi from the CSA. Homemade croutons from stale sourdough bread and asiago cheese ($24/pound!) as well. The dressing is a simple red wine vinaigrette-- 5 tbl olive oil, 3 tbl red wine vinegar, 2 tsp country dijon mustard, salt and pepper. I like it to be really tart so taste it and add more vinegar or mustard if needed. Usually I wait until the last minute to add the salad dressing but this one needs to be dressed a few minutes early so the croutons can soak up the dressing. Be careful-- this salad can get really large because it uses up everything in your fridge. I always make sure to take some out before it's dressed (and leave those tomatoes off too) so I can have some for lunch the next day. yum.
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Friday, October 17, 2008

New outfit for Alex

I bought this fabric at the Quilt Expo with this outfit in mind for Alex (Alexander Henry's Traffic Jam fabric). I did not use a pattern for the pants and they came out way too tight on his little bottom. It took a lot of effort to squeeze him into them. I actually had to take off his perfectly clean cloth diaper and put him into a disposable to get his butt to fit in. He could hardly sit down but they were just so damn cute! I appliqued the fabric on the t-shirt to match. Tomorrow if I get a minute I will try again with the pants. Perhaps I will find some tall skinny kid to whom I can pass these along. They are about a 2T in length and maybe a 12-18 mo in the waist.

PS. This stroller got a lot of wear from Talia back in the day. Now it's Alex's turn. I had to bring it in the car today because he wouldn't let go of it.
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Thursday, October 16, 2008

What We're Eating: Winter Squash Sweet Potato Soup with Homemade Croutons and Truffle Oil

Longest blog title ever. As I mentioned in my last food post, we're getting lots of potatoes in our CSA share. This week and last we received both regular potatoes and sweet potatoes. Did I mention I don't like potatoes? Right. This soup was very good *and* it was made in the crockpot. Saute onions (1-2ish) and garlic (3-4ish cloves) on the stove and transfer to the crockpot. Add diced sweet potato (3ish) and diced winter squash (in this case, 2 small carnival squash from our CSA-- or was is hubbard squash?). Add broth (4 cups-ish) and some thyme, salt, pepper and rosemary (I don't remember how much, ok?). Leave it in the crockpot on low for 6-8 hours and then puree it with an immersion blender, leaving some larger chunks for texture. For the homemade croutons I just toasted half a sourdough baguette, diced. It was Ron's idea to add the truffle oil because we all know that truffle oil makes everything exponentially better.

This recipe is a genuine reflection of my cooking style-- all amounts are approximate. Especially with a crockpot-- just use what you have. I generally follow the ingredients of a recipe pretty closely the first time I make something but I always just use all of whatever vegetable I have. I don't use 1 cup of diced onion, I just use one onion-- or two. My philosophy on spices in more is always better. Obviously you could just make this on the stove and simmer it for 30 or 40 minutes. That would be fine too. I don't think using the crockpot gave this recipe any added flavor. What it added was the fact that I made it and *cleaned up* at 11 in the morning and only had to worry about making a salad at dinner time. And some roasted broccoli too I think. Or not. Recently all of our meals include a fall soup, a big salad and a roasted vegetable side. It's a great combination.
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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Recent Outdoor Activities/ Happy New Year

At this time in our lives, we find it rather difficult to take to the kids to synagogue, despite our desire to participate more fully in Judaism. When we do go we end up sitting with Talia in the preschool service, where she doesn't want to join in or following Alex around the playroom, where he is too young to stay for babysitting and perhaps wouldn't be happy there without us. One of the ways we observed the Jewish holidays this year was to spend a little time in shul and a lot of time outdoors together as a family. This year we went to Olbrich Gardens and Devil's Lake. The leaves were changing, the sun was shining, the breeze was refreshing and it helped us to feel like there is a difference between these fall days of the new year and summer days of the previous year. It gave us a moment (just a quick moment-- there was a lake the kids could fall into!) to appreciate the good things in our lives, to feel determined to change what might not be perfect, and how to be better people to each other and ourselves. We even got a little tiyul in without too much complaining from the little ones. We have a fabulous family and very fortunate in our health and happiness. I am enthusiastic about this upcoming election and the positive direction we can all take as a country after these rough times. L'Shana Tova-- Here's to a great year!
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Saturday, October 11, 2008

What We're Eating: Crockpot Potatoes and Pesto

Here's a fact about me: I just don't love potatoes. I mean, I like french fries ok but mostly as a vehicle for ketchup-- which I don't really get to eat much as a vegetarian. I enjoy a good potato salad now and again and maybe mashed potatoes once a year. I just don't want to eat potatoes as a side or main dish for dinner. Ever.

We have gotten many many many potatoes from our CSA. Every week we're getting a few pounds. I gave some away, used some for potato salad (twice) and roasted them with fresh rosemary for breakfast. The other night I found a crockpot recipe that called for sauteed onions with sundried tomatoes, layered with 1/4 inch sliced potatoes and pesto. I even had pesto in my freezer that my mother in law gave me this spring. Leave it on low for 8 hours. I was happy to use the potatoes for something. Ron really enjoyed it. I thought it was ok but then again, I really don't like potatoes.
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Ridiculous Pants

Talia was admiring a pair of pants she saw in a storybook we were reading. I decided to recreate them for her using a pair of cropped pants from H&M that she had previously rejected. The pants do look remarkably similar to the ones in the book but they look really silly in person. Talia loves them, however, and they seem pretty comfy. Plus, now she'll wear these pants (and I have another pair in pink) *and* they were cropped pants and now she can wear them in the fall.
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