I found a use for all of my apples! This is actually half apple, half pear, but that starts to verge on being a mouthful. Especially with the cranberries, and the fact that I used white wine instead of water. But that's an entirely different story. This was the first time I had a jar that didn't seal, which tells me that it's time to invest in a proper pot for canning, even if it's just $3 from Goodwill. Matao also put his brand new dehydrator to use this morning and made a batch of beef jerky. Which I have been secretly munching on all evening (the same piece... I'm a slow nibbler). I'm starting to believe that he might be a secret kitchen genius. This stuff is so good.
I am less than excited that my four day weekend is coming to an end. I haven't exactly been a bundle of energy today, but it felt really good to take a nap and run pointless errands with the love. I could definitely use another day.
Finally! I have had the same digital camera since my high school graduation... which was nearly 7 years ago. Because I am a bossy little brat- my mom new exactly what to get me for Christmas this year. It's perfect.
Matao snuck down to the canal with me today to go on a bit of a top secret adventure, so I messed around a bit with daylight. Lovely!
Only a few pictures from yesterday. Me being adorable (haha!) and a bowl full of 5 pounds of picked AK king crab. This is how I trick people into loving me!
The winner of the Illustrated Wild Foods Recipe Calendar calendar is Tekla! "Love it! I would hang it in my kitchen next to the basil and rosemary pots, grown "wild" in my Manhattan apartment. :)" Tekla (who I still call Tally) is my oldest friend- who I've known for nearly 21 years! Congratulations, lovely!
Gorgeous, as always!
I have been crazy busy lately. Matao's cousins from Australia are in town visiting, my brother and his girlfriend Liz made a quick stop-through on Sunday/Monday, and we had a pretty decent sized "Non Denominational Holiday Dinner and Gift Exchange" on Sunday night, where I assisted my brother in making the best moose meatloaf ever with tons of garlic, onions, and fresh mint (!!!) Thanks greatly to our dad for sending my brother with a styro full of game meat! Moose meat is so clean and flavorful that it lends so well to simple dishes with a few good additions. There were actually two vegetarians at the party who tried it and loved it (I won't name names!)
Last night I bottled up all of my homemade vanilla extract. It smells and tastes wonderful. I used a bit of it when I made vanilla cupcakes on Sunday- and although the cupcakes were a total flop (don't get me started) they still had great vanilla flavor. After this I think I'll have a very hard time buying pre-made vanilla extract ever again.
Our CSA boxes the past month have been overflowing with potatoes and apples. The potatoes get used up quickly, but Matao isn't much of a fruit eater, and we have more than I can even begin to put a dent into. A lot of the apples are starting to go soft on top of that. I'm thinking I'll end up making applesauce, but I'm having a hard time getting excited about it. Does anyone have any other suggestions, or maybe even just a good twist to put on applesauce? If I do make it I'll be canning most of it, and if it's going to take up precious pantry space it had better be amazing!
Aside from any of that... I am dying for snow. Seattle just doesn't cut it in that department. I'm not going home for Christmas this year, either, so I guess I'll just have to enjoy it via other peoples photos that I stole from Flickr. Hah!
I'm upping the ante! If 25+ people enter for the Illustrated Wild Foods Recipe Calendar Giveaway I'm going to also send a 4oz bottle of homemade vanilla extract to the winner. If 30+ people enter- I'll do a second drawing, and someone else will also win a 4oz bottle of homemade vanilla extract! Get on it!
I first discovered Foraged and Found without realizing it- when I bought fiddleheads from them this past spring. I came across Christina's blog about a month and a half ago, via Fat of the Land and instantly fell in love. I bought three copies of her calendar right away. She and her partner sell their calendars and foraged foods at the Sunday farmers market in my neighborhood, and she also sells via her Etsy store. I do sound a bit like a creepy secret stalker, considering that we've never actually met!
The calendar features 18 recipes, 12 different foraged foods (native to Washington), and gorgeous illustrations by Emily Counts for each month. Mine is going up in my kitchen, where I will hopefully be able to avoid sloshing food and dirty dish water all over it!
If you're interested in winning yourself or someone else a copy of this lovely, lovely calendar- all you need to do is comment on this entry- telling me where you'd hang it! I will randomly pick a winner next Tuesday, December 22nd around 3PM Seattle (Pacific Standard) time, and announce it here. You should be able to comment via your Google account- unregistered users please be sure to use your real name. Also, please be sure to check out The Illustrated Wild Foods Recipe Calendar Fan Club on Facebook!
Remember that post I wrote less than a week ago about some alternatives to chopping down a live tree, where I also mentioned that I had ordered something, but I wanted to wait until it got here to tell you what?
Well, it showed up yesterday. In a very, very small box. Much smaller than expected. Oops.
My plan was to buy a live, rooted tree, so that I could just plant it in a large pot and then we could continue to use the same tree year after year, until it needed to be put into the ground. I found a seller on eBay who had an assortment of different types and sizes of rooted trees, for super cheap. The problem was that she had two sizes listed under "small", and I happened to buy the smaller of the smalls. Meaning that it's about 5 inches tall. YES! I win again.
I kind of love it, for what it is. I went ahead and potted it and decorated it with my smallest snail ornament. Matao, however, was not impressed.
Luckily, Urban Weeds just so happens to be located across the street from his work. They also happen to sell organic trees... I gave in.
It's only 3 feet tall, and we are using a terracotta pot with dirt and rocks as a tree stand... so it's still a little "Charlie Brown"-esque. But I love it, and Luna has only tried to attack it once. So far.
Aside from the hot pink tinsel tree that Renee bought for us a few years ago that we covered in snails and giraffes, I haven't had much of a "Christmas" tree in years.
Matao wants a tree this year. At first I was hesitant, then excited, and then just conflicted. I love the idea of having this big wonderful smelling tree in our apartment- but I hate the fact that we have to kill one to do so. Plus, the cleanup is awful, and I'm pretty sure we'd have a wild cat beast climbing up it and knocking it over. Probably only onto my things and not Matao's, in typical Luna fashion.
Me, being me- I'll show you what we ended up doing once it gets here (yes, I ordered something). But aside from that I wanted to suggest a few good alternatives to a real "live" (aka soon to be dead) tree. Especially if you live in an apartment, or somewhere with limited space.
- This is my absolute favorite thing. I can't get over how cute it is! It would be darling with a tiny strand of white lights, and some felt berries.
- Etsy is an absolute mecca of vinyl wall decals these days, but if you can manage to weed your way through some of the cheesy crap, there are a lot of really great finds. I love the idea of a giant tree taking up half of your wall. Some of my favorites: here, here, here, here, and here. Phew.
- I love this, and I think they would also be incredibly easy to make, if you had the right materials. She has a few in other colors and patterns as well, and you really can't beat the price at $12.
- This seller has an entire shop full of wonderful tree alternatives. I really love the idea of a wreath, that can be used year after year (also: this, this, this, or this). Or a teenie tiny pinecone fruit and spice tree that would work perfectly on a shelf or tabletop. If you aren't hung up on having a tree tree there are a lot of other directions to go in.
Moving on to lights- I don't have a lot of crazy or unique ideas, but I do have one long standing favorite:
Renee Marie & RenaiMarie
Origami balls! These are SO easy (and fun) to make, and if you use neutral colored paper you can leave them up year round. I've seen these exact same lights sold on Etsy and a local art gallery for $35+, which is insane considering that you can get a strand of white lights for $2 and origami paper for about the same. All you do is fold your paper following these instructions, and then place each ball (where the hole is) over a light. Easy peasy and they're so beautiful once up. If you live in Seattle, Uwajimaya is probably the best place to pick up origami paper (as well as heaps of udon mmm).
My next post, which I was intending to focus entirely on gifting books- is quickly evolving into something else (surprise!), as I realized that I have far too many favorite sellers on Etsy to cut my list short. Too bad!
December has officially begun, which means that people have suddenly all gone crazy with holiday shopping. I am a bit of a freak, and have been doing my own version for several months now. The reason being that I plan/coordinate all of our holiday events and corporate gifts in the office, which takes months of work- so my mind is in the holiday gutter long before most anyone else's. It would be exhausting, if I didn't absolutely love it.
The reason why I love it, though- is because I (now) only give handmade, local, environmentally friendly, and/or sustainable gifts. Which equates to me spending hours (and hours and hours) browsing Etsy, thrift stores, farmers markets, and local bookstores. Hi there, Heaven. Now, this doesn't mean that I buy heaps and heaps of stuff. More or less, it means that I put a lot of thought, effort, and heart into the gifts that I end up purchasing. Because, after-all, I am perfect, and that's what perfect people do.
Did you throw up yet? No, but seriously.
I am so happy this year about the gifts that I am giving people, and I thought it would be fun to share some of my favorite ideas, both things to make yourself, and lovely things to pick up elsewhere.
- Gift In a Jar: Vanilla Syrup from Food In Jars. While I haven't tried making it yet, I am currently in the process of making a beautiful half gallon of homemade vanilla extract. While her proportions are quite small and she uses rum- I used a handle of super cheap vodka, and 8 vanilla beans (split) from PCC ($.98 each!) It's been sitting on the bottom of our bookshelf for a few weeks now, and I'll portion it out into small bottles once Christmas is nearer. It smells and looks so wonderful, it's ridiculous. It's also very hard to photograph!
- Hand Milled Soap is a super genius way to turn basic soap into something really lovely. I'm completely intimidated by soap making, so I'm going to give this a try sometime this week. Lavender, tea tree oil, and peppermint! Of course.
- Decorated gingerbread cookies are always fun to make, and even better to eat. Another idea is to mix together only the dry ingredients from a recipe, then package them up nicely with instructions for adding wet ingredients and making cookies. I do this for my moms partner, and include "Be nice to my mom" as the first step. Yes, I do think I'm funny.
- I already posted about air plants, but now I've had mine for a bit, I love them even more. They're the perfect plant for someone who sucks at keeping things alive (ahem-Becca-ahem), and I've used tiny little candle holders, egg cups, and vases to hold mine, since they don't actually have to be practical planting containers. So, $11 for three plants, plus about $1 - $3 at Goodwill for containers, and you're golden. Or, there's always something like this. You can also find air plants locally (usually) at places like Whole Foods or nurseries... but sometimes knowing is easier than hunting.
- And, lastly- is wrapping paper. For which I don't think I need to link you anywhere. I made all of mine this year using paper grocery bags and rubber stamps. Just cut the bottom and handles off the bag, and stamp away on the blank side. I tied mine up with scraps of yarn that I had leftover from projects (plus a lot more, but shhh). You can also use butcher paper or tissue paper, twine or string, and any kind of ink and homemade stamps that you can think of. I've had a lot of fun making mine (Luna has been a HUGE help, might I add), and now Matao is bugging me to help him make his own (by "help" he means "do it for me" but still).
Part 2 coming soon! Including trees, decorations, and more paper (as in- books)!