Tuesday, June 29, 2010

On Summer Break...

From now through July 14th, this blog (and myself!) are on summer break—no email, no facebook, no blogging. Thorough unplugging in an attempt to do what this lovely poster from The Wheatfield says, simply because it's time. See you all back here then!

Pie Chart Accessories from Studio Fludd

I'm loving the work from Studio Fludd—Caterina, Clara, Matteo, Sara, Valeria—for it's slightly science-y, yet still modern vibe. They are a creative collective from Italy who takes some of my favorite things, pie charts and infographics, and turns them into usable accessories.

Pie Chart Pins

Infograph Pendants

Alchemic Notebooks
So digging these!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Cranberry Almond Chocolate Trail Bars

After I finish up a quick trip to nyc today, I'll be this close to heading West on a real vacation. By which I mean no internet, no emailing, no checking my blackberry. Just meeting new family, seeing new sites and enjoying a bit of R&R—plus a 7 day backpacking trip.

Since I can be a little picky about food, I though it would be nice to have something homemade along, so I made these trail bars to take along. The recipe is from the April/May issue of ReadyMade from Louisa Shafia, the author of Lucid Food, and I love them because they are completely customizable and full of wholesome ingredients including nut butter, seeds, dried fruit, oats and some chocolate thrown in for good measure. It's all bound together with brown rice syrup, which gives them a rice krispy treat texture.

They are a bit messy to make, and the ingredients can be an investment, but I realized that since the recipe makes 18-20 bars if you cut them into sizes like I did (meant to be eaten for breakfast or a hearty snack) and twice that if you cut them smaller, they are really an economical alternative to buying Cliff Bars. Plus, I got to put in exactly what I wanted and they are delicious. We're still debating about whether we want to bring the whole batch, but after I ate one for breakfast on the plane yesterday.

Click here to see the original recipe.
Here is what I did—the biggest difference is that I cut out the cup of evaporated sugar that was called for. I loved the taste of the original bars, but they were a little sweeter than I prefer. I think I got a good balance with just the brown rice syrup.

Cranberry Almond Chocolate Trail Bars

3 c rolled oats
4 c puffed flax cereal (I used Perky's Nutty Flax for the fiber and the crunch)
2 c dried cranberries
1 c raw pumpkin seeds
1/2 c raw sunflower seeds
1/2 c walnuts
1 1/2 c bittersweet chocolate chips
2 c brown rice syrup
1 c almond butter
1 t vanilla extract
1⁄2 t salt
  1. Line a 9×13-inch rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, mix together the oats, cereal, dried fruit, and nuts ; set aside.
  2. Melt the chocolate in the top of a double boiler. Add brown rice syrup, nut butter, vanilla, and salt. Stir the mixture until smooth and heated through, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
  3. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir with a spatula. Mix with your hands until the dry ingredients are fully coated with the chocolate.
  4. Pour the mixture into baking sheet, cover with a sheet of parchment paper or plastic wrap, and press the mixture down. Use a rolling pin to press it out to the corners of the baking sheet.
  5. Allow to cool, then slice into bars. Wrapped well or stored in an airtight container, the bars can last for up to a month in the fridge.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Inspired Image: Jaime of Prudent Baby

Hello, my name is Jaime Morrison Curtis

You can find me at Prudent Baby and Prudent Advice.

This image comes from my iphone, snapped from the 10 FWY on a drive out to the desert.

It inspires me because
rainbows are magical.

I particularly love
the randomness of it.  It hadnt been raining, it was 100 degrees outside, and here is this rainbow just plopped there in the distance.

It makes me feel hopeful.

The 3 words it conjures up are surprise, sweetness, solitude

The day that Jaime emailed me to introduce herself, I happened to see her house on Young House Love. Needless to say, I was instantly interested in getting to know her more. And I'm happy to link to this fantastic Beginner's Bias Tape Bag tutorial that she recently posted.

Even though I've never used bias tape, her instructions and the downloadable pattern definitely make me feel like I could. Thanks Jaime for a fantastic image to end the week on, and for pointing me in the direction of this project. Enjoy the weekend everyone!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Friendship Bracelets: Time to Swap (and a Look at the Last Batch)

The big day for all of the friendship bracelets to go back into the mail, swapped, to their new owners has come! A big thank you to those of you who participated—it's been so much fun to see what you've made and to have the chance to bring our online community offline in the form of bracelets via the USPS. Here's a look at the last batch:

Top row: An impressive assortment from Jessica of Sunny Tuesday (who made little tags that share the tidbit that her favorite color combo in 1994, her bracelet making hey day, was hot pink and teal). I just love how some of Jessica's bracelets are made with what looks like strips of cloth.
Second row left: A modern classic from Amanda who made a lot of bracelets at summer camp (and despite what she told me, she clearly remembers how to make them well!).
Second row right: Totally loving the mix of bright colors in Kelley's bracelet.
Third row left: Brianna's version makes use of thicker strands woven together in a sort of chain stitch. Dig the mix of threads in this one.
Third row right: Hannah sent in a very awesome Native American looking pattern, in an envelope that looks to be made from a magazine page.
Fourth row left: Abigail's design, which makes use of her favorite colors (which I love too!).
Fourth row right: Shout out to my cousin Gina- thanks for participating in the swap and representing the cousins!
Fifth row left: Wool thread braids from Shing, with fun cards to go with them.
Fifth row right: Tara's slightly rocker chick bracelet with her rad display of recycling.
Sixth row left: Melanie's classic version (which comes packaged in a sweet little pouch!).
Sixth row right: A sweet swap hostess gift for me- thank you Jessica!

They are all going into the mail today, so hopefully you'll have yours in a few days. And a big thank you to everyone who sent in extra supplies for the Boys & Girls Club. I'm very excited to help pass this craft onto the next generation!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Embroidered Fabric Love for Lou Lou & Oscar

Lou Lou & Oscar is one of my new favorite embroidery shops and I am very drawn to these little guys from Lisa Aaron. 

From Lisa:

I adore Scandinavian design and all things Zakka. Beautiful fabric is my passion. My creatures are made using material from Linum & Himla of Sweden, Green Gate of Denmark and the UK's own Cabbages & Roses. I am lucky enough to be able to source most of my fabric locally.
 How could you not be a fan of that—and these?!

I'm actually going on vacation soon (so soon it's a little distracting) and I've been trying to decide on what type of stitchery project to bring with me. We'll be in the car for a decent amount of time and I know that I just don't feel right without a needle and thread—and I'm thinking a sweet little embroidery project might be the way to go.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Loess Hills Day Trip, Freshly Baked Sandwich Bread and Homemade Frozen Yogurt

As I was all excited about showing off my new header, you get a few peeks at my weekend one day late. It was a good weekend, all around, and it felt both productive and leisurely, which is often a tough combination to work out. There were definitely a few highlights.

1.) Taking a day trip to Loess Hills and going hiking. While I admit that this particular hike was not my finest few hours (note to self: always bring bug spray so to avoid getting attacked by mosquitos/nearly passing out from heat stroke with an almost migraine level headache when attempting to hike in 80 degree weather in my rain jacket), it was still an experience. I learned that I do not like orienteering, but rather a real trail with a real direction. Thankfully Josh took over the leading/bushwacking and was patient with me and my lackluster attitude. (I love hiking, but this day the cards were definitely stacked against me. It happens.)
Thankfully, we found an orchard with cherry pie a la mode soon after finishing, which completely saved the day. And we located a map with real trails on it, so we will definitely head back there soon.

2.) I made sandwich bread! After successfully botching a loaf last weekend because I was trying to do too many things at once, I can say with confidence that this loaf—the Oatmeal Sandwich Bread from Good to the Grain* rocks. I kid you not when I say that this is the first loaf of sandwich bread that has actually risen and baked up like a loaf of sandwich bread is supposed to. Huzzah! I am eating a lot of toast with jam (from the orchard) this week.

3.) I made frozen yogurt! You know that I love my ice cream maker, well I also love this recipe for Strawberry Cinnamon Frozen Yogurt from the latest issue of ReadyMade. I decided to tweak it a bit and I used blackberries and stirred in some chocolate shavings. The result is a sort of Pinkberry meets Cherry Garcia flavor that I very much enjoy. I might puree the berries next time, but the base recipe is so darn good. Like cheesecake (only with 2% yogurt) on your spoon.

*After giving it some thought, I realized that it's not right for me to post the recipe for this bread unless I take the time to reach out to the author/publisher to ask permission. I know it might seem unfair of me to rave and rave about this and that recipe without helping you make them yourselves, but for now, I'm going to recommend you check out the actual book. I'll share the recipe once I'm able to do it responsibly.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Say Hello to My New Header

Hooray! After a few weeks of planning, tweaking and emailing back and forth, Kelly of Succulent Love Designs worked out this pretty new header for me. You know that I love fabric, so I scanned a handful of pieces that I had, including two pieces of crocheted lace and two cross-stitched table runners from my Dad's mom Mildred. Here's a look at what we started with:

Once I saw this option, which Kelly skillfully put together using the best elements from a few different fabrics, I knew it was the one. It's bright, feminine, and clearly handmade, yet also elegant and unique. Plus I love that it was stitched by someone in my family. We played with fonts and colors, and I am so, so pleased with where we wound up.

So a big thank you to Kelly for being patient with me (as I am a little, ahem, picky) and I hope you all enjoy it as much as I do!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Friendship Bracelet Friday

The deadline for the friendship bracelet swap is fast approaching and I am so excited about the latest batch that I've gotten in. This one is from Allyson of the Sweatshop of Love and I am in love with her interpretation—interlocking bracelets made with yarn...so darn cool. (Which makes me wonder how I decide which one I get to swap with? It seems unfair to pick my favorite for myself...any thoughts?)

The next one, which again is so impressive as creating a design within a bracelet is something that I never learned how to do. This one is from Mala and I am also really digging her color combo—just in time for the 4th!

Apparently you swappers have been very modest about your bracelet making skills—check this one out from Kimberly which makes use of a bead as a hook, in addition to having a cool pattern.

You know, in addition to reminding me how much I love friendship bracelets and making new friends, hosting this swap has also given me the joy of getting a lot of really great mail. I am going to try to make a concerted effort to send more mail so that I can pass that on a little bit. And on that note, happy Friday and enjoy the weekend!

P.S. If you have a bracelet that you just haven't mailed yet, but you want to try to squeeze in at the last minute, let me know and I'll be sure to include you in the swap next week.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Link Love: Birthday Goodies

Since I got a handful of lovely gifts for my bday last week that have made me so happy, I thought I'd use this post to start the week of right and share them with you.

Above is the Rainy Day tea towel from Leah Duncan, one of my new favorite illustrator/designers. I opened this up and immediately new that it would never be soiled in the kitchen—this beauty is going on a wall, likely in my office where it can give me endless inspiration.

You might remember that I posted about this necklace a few weeks ago. And my sweet boyfriend remembered too, and now I am the proud owner of this beauty from Corrine of September House.

I've also mentioned Good to the Grain: Baking With Whole Grain Flours before and to be honest, I have been tempted to cook my way through it it's so great. I can't wait to share what I make. (I swear I will not go out to lunch while my next batch of bread from this book is rising, I will not!)

A sweet and very unexpected gift came from one of my coworkers, who knows how much I love cookbooks (and sits behind the enormous stack of them on my cabinet). She very thoughtfully gave me the Fill-in-the-Blank Cookbook Log from the Small Object (makers of my favorite Today is Awesome print). The log is sort of like a library system of card cataloging—each cookbook gets a little pocket and a card, and then I get to write info about when the book came into my life and what my favorite recipes are. Given that I recently came into possession of one of my grandmothers cookbooks, and she left a handwritten list in the front of each of her current recipes, I know I'm going to start doing this, even if only to amuse me later in life...I am sure I will think, wow, I made a lot of baked goods when I turned 30!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Nature-Inspired Jewelry from Friedasophie

It's been far too long since I've posted about jewelry and today's featured maker is definitely one of my new favorites. Sandra of Friedasophie on etsy makes jewelry using shapes, colors and textures inspired by nature and says that she's loved to create since she was a kid.

Alex's grandmother was a fashion designer and her great-grandmother was a hat designer, and I just love that she's found her own creative outlet that we can all wear.

Actually, this style of jewelry really speaks to me. I like things to be simple, but also unique and eye catching. I can imagine wearing these pieces with a tee shirt and shorts or a fancier dress which to me is excellent multi-tasking.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

New Knitting EBook from Allyson of Sweatshot of Love

Allyson from the Sweatshop of Love (please check out her site for a solid dose of energizing color!) sent over some info on her new ebook that I just had to share.
This ebook includes easy to read and super clear instructions for 10 fun summer knits and some helpful how-tos to get you through this summer knitting season. Projects include a few sweaters, legwarmers, headbands and bags.
 Let's take a peak at some of them:

Man I love those legwarmers and know that all of you proficient knitters out there would have a lot of fun making these designs. And actually, I'm finding this surprisingly motivating—maybe I need to pull out my neglected knitting needles soon!