Archive | November, 2010

Handstamp a Card

30 Nov

I decided a few weeks ago I was going to start carving my own stamps.  All it took was a trip to Jerry’s Artarama for some carving blocks and carving tools and I was on my way.  All you have to do is draw a mirror image (remember this- you will not be happy if you, like me, spend 45 minutes carving a stamp only to realize it will print backwards) of your desired image on the block and carve the empty spaces around it.  In other words, anything you want to be printed should be raised and everything you want to be empty space should be carved down.

I know a bunch of folks with November birthdays, so I decided to create a birthday stamp.  Here it is, all inked up:

And here, the inelegantly printed final product:

Quick, easy and pretty cool looking.  I’m already dorking out thinking of all the invitations, holiday greeting cards, place cards and other sundry stamped goods I’ll be making.

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Make Tea

24 Nov

A delicious tea recipe: Mix equal parts lemongrass, lavender, lemongrass and jasmine.  Brew in bag or tea ball for 5 minutes.  Serve hot or cool and serve mixed with 2 oz. apple cider and 1 oz. gin to 4 oz. tea for a tasty cocktail.

Make a Cheese Ball!

23 Nov

A few weeks ago I was cleaning out the pantry and found an packet of cheese ball spices I’d gotten as a gift years ago.  Being the ever daring, incorrigibly curious lady that I am, I grabbed the cream cheese out of the fridge and set about making a cheeseball.  I followed the directions to add the spices and 1/4 cup of cheddar cheese and it was certainly tasty, but I determined it wouldn’t be a true cheese ball without the ubiquitous nut coating you always see in traditional cheese balls.  I crushed walnuts, mixed them with dried cranberries, rolled my cheese ball in the mix, and brought it to a party I was going to that evening.

Now, that cheese ball was good, but I knew that I could do better.  The spices were just really salty and had that tangy taste of too much processing and preserving.  Naturally, when we had our friends over to dinner last week, I took a crack at cheese ball number two- a butternut squash and sage cheese ball, invented by yours truly.  It was pretty delicious, and now I find myself cheese ball obsessed.  Think of the possibilities!  Red wine and goat cheese balls! Cheese balls made with curry, cashews and cranberries! Pimento cheese balls!  I’ve always sort of wanted a signature food I always make and bring to parties and I think I may have found it in the cheese ball.  So simple.  So elegant.  So nicely symmetrical. Cheese ball, I’ve been looking for you all my life and you were right in front of me.  I’m sorry I didn’t see you until now.

Butternut Squash and Sage Cheese Ball

Ingredients:

1/2 large butternut squash

1 t butter

1 clove garlic

2 T crushed walnuts

8 oz cream cheese

1/4 t smoked paprika

1/2 t sage

1/8 t white pepper

Peel squash and cut in half. Core insides and save seeds.  Cut squash into chunks and boil in salted walter until tender, about 10 minutes or roast in a 375 degree oven for abot half an hour. Mince garlic clove, heat butter in a small pan, add garlic and cook on medium for two minutes.  Increase heat, add squash seeds and cook until crispy.  Mix walnuts with squash seeds and set aside.

Place cream cheese in a bowl and butternut squash, paprika, sage and white pepper.  If the squash hasn’t cooled, it will soften the cream cheese and you’ll have it the mixture sit in the fridge overnight to harden.  I recommend this since it makes the mixing easier and gives the falvors a chance to settle into themselves before eating.

Roll the hardened mixture into a ball and roll into the walnut and seed mixture.  And now, my friends, you have yourselves a cheese ball.

Paint a Chalkboard on your Wall

22 Nov

I’ve already sung the praises of chalkboard paint, and while I’ve since put the chalkboard table up for adoption, my love for all things chalkboard hasn’t died.  I have a habit of making lists of possible dinners I can make with the ingredients we have in the house and garden and have been wanting a way to display them prominently so I don’t forget my options come dinnertime.  I still had half a can of chalkboard paint in the attic and decided to paint a chalkboard right on the wall in our kitchen.

I started by taping off a rectangle on the wall and filling it in with chalkboard paint:

Next, I penciled in a frame drawing around the chalkboard box, filled it in with gold paint and drew details with a black paint pen.Buy some chalkboard paint.  Let me know what you do with it.

Thanksgiving in a Cup

22 Nov

During my trip to West Virginia, I was lucky enough to share a lovely Thanksgiving potluck with some great friends, new and old.  My contribution to the potluck was a Thanksgiving cocktail I hereby call “Thanksgiving in a Cup.”  Using a Blackberry Farm recipe for pumpkin spice iced tea I found via Metropulse’s Rose Kennedy, I added vodka and candied cranberries for a cocktail packed with Thanksgiving flavors. Here’s the recipe, which will leave you with cranberries to spare and eat with your Thanksgiving meal.

Ingredients:

1 lb cranberries

1/4 c honey

1/4 c water

rind of 1 orange

rind of 1 lemon

1/2 t vanilla extract

1 cinammon stick

1 oz vodka

3 oz pumpkin spice tea

Combine first seven ingredients (though cinammon stick) in a pot and cook over medium heat for about 20 minutes, until cranberries soften and produce a thick syrup.  Cool on stovetop.

In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, shake vodka and pumkin tea and strain into a glass.  If you prefer, mix in a glass with ice.  Add about three cranberries and a tablespoon of cranberry syrup. Give thanks.


Gay and Fresh in Lewisburg, WV

17 Nov

When I’m on a vacation, be it a month-long backpacking trip or weekend jaunt, each day I plan to leave a section of Walt Whitman’s Song of the Open Road. I might leave it in a B&B guestbook, tuck a note behind a hotel painting or write it on a dollar bill I spend at a hot dog stand. In any case, I’ll be tracking where I leave the poem here. I call it The Open Road Project.  Click on the stanzas below to find out where they’ve been left and track the poem’s progress here.

I left the 14th section of the poem at Brick House Antiques, a sweet little store in the sweet little town of Lewisburg, WV. I picked up a giant tea ball for soup making, infusing, and of course for brewing copious amounts of tea.

I loved this “LOVE” tapestry, but it was a little too pricey for me to take home. Instead, I left my poem below it.

“The earth expanding right hand and left hand,
The picture alive, every part in its best light,
The music falling in where it is wanted, and stopping where it is not wanted,
The cheerful voice of the public road—the gay fresh sentiment of the road.”

where the poem's been so far

Amicable at Amy and Mike’s in Frankford, WV

16 Nov

When I’m on a vacation, be it a month-long backpacking trip or weekend jaunt, each day I plan to leave a section of Walt Whitman’s Song of the Open Road. I might leave it in a B&B guestbook, tuck a note behind a hotel painting or write it on a dollar bill I spend at a hot dog stand. In any case, I’ll be tracking where I leave the poem here. I call it The Open Road Project.  Click on the stanzas below to find out where they’ve been left and track the poem’s progress here.


This weekend I found myself lucky enough to be visiting dear friends Amy and Mike at their lovely home in West Virginia.  The festivities included a concert at our friend’s school house juke joint, building and enjoying a sweat lodge and eating a fantastic early Thanksgiving potluck.

see the little pink notes tucked in the logs?

I put the 13th section of the poem in this sweet little red wagon-come-wheelbarrow, which we used to haul to wood from the yard to the sweat lodge.  It was nowhere to be seen by the time I started chopping.

chopping wood in front of sweat lodge construction

“From all that has been near you, I believe you have imparted to yourselves, and now would impart the same secretly to me; From the living and the dead I think you have peopled your impassive surfaces, and the spirits thereof would be evident and amicable with me.”

did i mention their home is beautiful?