Sunday, August 30, 2009

Cooking: Roasted Tomatos and Garlic Shrimp with Angel Hair Pasta

It's not as if this dinner was any big miracle, but it was simple, good, and I want to remember how we did it so easily. David is much better at cooking "by ear," as I like to say, meaning that he doesn't usually use a recipe. I am trying to do more of that.

So this evening we decided to do a little pasta. I roasted grape tomatoes ("recipe" of sorts here)and cut up some beefsteak and threw them in the pan too with olive oil, salt and pepper, and italian herbs. Roasted at 425 until they were wilted and juicy. (Would have been better I realized not to cut the beefsteak but it sped up the process, so next time...)

Meanwhile we boiled angel hair pasta...

When the tomatoes were about there David sauteed some garlic in olive oil in a large saute pan and then threw in the shrimp until they were pink. Then we added the angel hair pasta and tomatoes and a bit more kosher salt and cooked for a few minutes.

Then we ate it all up! Yum!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Sewing: Oilcloth PreSchool Bag

Update: The PreSchool Bag worked just fine on the first day of school!

Audrey needs a big bag to take to preschool. Big enough to carry all her snow gear in the winter, and to bring home any projects throughout the year. The school sells such a bag but that means the whole class may have identical bags. So I thought it was the perfect opportunity to do something cute with oilcloth. Audrey and I looked at all the oilcloth patterns online and picked this cute cherry on acqua at Mendel's. Lucky for us it was even on sale! I selected a red and white gingham to coordinate because I wanted to do an oilcloth liner.

I used one of the bags the school sells as a reference to get the size right but basically figured it out as I went. Not too difficult really. I created this little zippered pouch for the inside in case I send her with something small or more valuable, added another little pocket on the outside for a fun contrast as much as anything, and bought some belt webbing to make the handles.
It was a little tricky fitting the bag under the needle to sew some of the seams because I didn't plan it perfectly but I'm thrilled with the result.

One added benefit I didn't realize is that the bag stands open on its own so that will make it easier for Audrey to pack up and unpack.

The bag is about as big as she is. Should be a pretty cute sight to see her walking into school with it.
PATTERN (Instructions)
Simple Bag (No zippered inner pocket--just outside pocket)
  • Yardage: 1 yard if self lined OR 1 yard of outside and 1 yard of contrast lining
  • Notions: 60” belt webbing for handles
  • How to: Cut out two pieces of oilcloth 20.5"x36"(one is for the outer bag and one for the lining). Fold outside piece and lining piece in half, aligning long edges, with right sides together. Stitch. Turn outside right-side-out and place lining (which should be wrong side out) inside. Turn raw edge ¼” to the inside (toward lining) and stitch. Turn inside (toward lining) 1” and stitch down to hem finish mouth of bag. Top stitch top edge of bag. To “square” bottom, form triangles on bottom sides of bag about 5” high, fold up along side seams and stitch points down.
  • If you want to add a pocket to the front as soon, cut an extra piece of contrast lining 5.5"x8". Fold under (hem) a 1/4" on long sides towards wrong side of oilcloth and stitch. Pin in position on bag so pocket is centered top to bottom and will fit under the webbing straps. Stitch along sides and bottom of pocket leaving top open.
  • Cut webbing in two pieces; zig zag finish raw edge. Pin webbing to bag so finished edges align with bottom edge of the bag as shown and straps cover the edges of the front pocket (straps should be about 9" apart measuring from their centers). Top stitch straps in place.

**NOTE 4/28/10: I just went to one of my oilcloth resources, Mendel's, and read this warning on their site about using oilcloth for children under twelve. "There is no lead in the oilcloth, but the levels of Phthalates are too high to comply with the new standards for items which are going to be sold and are intended to be used by children under 12 years old. So you can still make and sell bags and other things created with oilcloth but items like bibs and splat-mats cannot be sold." What a bummer. I haven't had much luck finding the perfect substitute in a more health and enviro-friendly form. I need to research some more!**

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Rooms: Closets for Girls

Seems strange to gush about closets, I know, but I couldn't be happier with the way the new closets turned out in my girls' rooms! It was on my nesting list for Baby Girl #2 and somehow I managed to get Audrey's redone as well. The "before" scenario included a set of double doors, a big interior space and one hangling rod and one shelf across the top. Not a very good use of space. Especially when the clothing one is hanging ranges between 12 inches and 24 inches long! And for babies, and anyone these days really, it seems drawer space and folding space is so much more useful.

So we took the space and put in cabinets--used the same carpenter who did our kitchen cabinets. So we have in Audreys' room, three banks of cabinets. The first has hanging space (currently configured to double-hang) above and then a very deep (36") full-extension drawer beneath. I'm excited about these drawers for storing clothes, but also toys! Love the idea of tossing them in a drawer and closing it.

The middle bank of cabinets has shelves behind doors and then three deep drawers. haven't figured out how to use the shelves yet, it's a bit random, but it's just so great to have the space.

We put cubby holes all along the top because it's so awkward anyway getting to those top shelves inside closets and I thought I might as well use them more decoratively. Down the road this space could be filled with some sort of organization cubes or baskets and full of things. Or it could be full of books, or who knows what Audrey will come up with in a few years.

For now I love having some meaningful things in view in her room, such as some figurines that were prominent in my childhood (the mother and child was my mother's and reminds me of her and we used to talk about the brother and sister reading representing my brother and me), another that was a wedding gift to us, a set of baby china from my mother-in-law for Audrey, a great photo of Audrey on the beach with her Dad,...

...a Matroyshka doll my parents brought me from Romania, one of my mother's teapots, one of my Barberini Bee paintings from college, ...

...Audrey's birthday crown and a paper crown from Primary (church), and a picture my mother took of her when she was two days old, and books I'm looking forward to reading with her.

In Scarlett's room we have four banks of cabinets because the space is wider. But it's also shorter, so we lost the drawers all the way along the bottom. Given the two middle banks of drawers there is still plenty of room however.

Since I feel like Scarlett's walls are a bit blank it's especially nice to have some display space here. I have quilts from my great grandmothers, a figurine of my mother's, Scarlett's first Easter gift (the little lamb), some great books to look forward to,...

...some plates, teacups and teapots handed down from my mother, and this fun alphabet block sign:

When Audrey was born I took monthly photos of her lying next to alphabet blocks that spelled her age: 1 month, 2 months, etc.. It was a fun way to document her growth so I've continued it with Scarlett. Even more fun to have the numbers change in her nursery too.

So that's the story about the closets. So much more functional, and fun. And I think they are built to adapt to our girls' changing wardrobes and habits. We'll see.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Cooking: Salted Caramel Ginger Biscuit Ice Cream

Some friends reinstituted their "Ice Cream Bowl" tradition after a 5-year hiatus. My husband was saying he didn't want to compete this year, but I persuaded him, saying it is always more fun to participate. Even so, it sort of snuck up on me. So Friday night at about ten o'clock I went to the store to buy ingredients to make the custard for a Salted Butter Caramel Ice Cream recipe I found online. I had been thinking it would be good to make a caramel ice cream with chunks of my grandmother's molasses cookies strewn throughout. So we worked until about midnight making caramel--the dry method with sugar over medium heat. We burned one batch and had to start over. I've never tried making it before and it was fun to try it. Now I think I could do spun sugar for a dessert sometime... When the caramel was ready we added the other ingredients to make the custard and then put it in the refrigerator to cool overnight.

Saturday morning II made my Grandmother's molasses cookies. It had been a while. Those cookies are SO good!
Shortly before the event we made the ice cream and folded in broken molasses cookies.

It was worth all the late night effort it took because the ice cream tasted incredible! We called it "Salted Caramel Ginger Biscuit Ice Cream." It tied for first place this year.

It got me thinking about ice cream ideas for next time: I would love to do a really dark chocolate with dark cherries, or a malted milk ball... We'll have to see.
Here's the recipe for my Grandmother's Molasses Cookies (with my own calculated nutritional info):
Grandma Heger’s Molasses Cookies

2 ¼ c sifted flour
1 t. salt
2 t. soda
½ t. ground cloves
1 t. cinnamon
1 t. ginger
¾ c. shortening
1 c. brown sugar
1 egg
¼ c. molasses

Sift flour salt soda cloves cinnamon and ginger. Mix shortening, brown sugar and egg until creamy. Mix in molasses and then flour mixture. Refrigerate 1 hour or longer.

Heat oven to 375. Shape in walnut sized balls. Dip one side in granulated sugar. Place 3” apart on greased cookies sheet, sugar side up. Sprinkle each cookie with water. Bake 12-15 minutes.

Nutritional Information whole recipe/per cookies (assuming batch of 40 cookies)

Calories 3413/85
Fat 147/3.7
Saturated 34/.85
Cholesterol 212/5.3
Sodium 4433/110.8
Carbs 280/7
Fiber 9
Sugar 46/1.15
Protein 35/.875
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