April 30, 2008

First of the Mother's Day gifties

Still in keeping with the Handmade Pledge, I've been busily making Mother's Day gifts for all the various moms and grandmoms out there. This one should get to Baba Lena today or tomorrow, since it's meant to be a combined Mother's Day and Birthday present, so I decided to post it a little early.

Apron with baby clothes patches

An apron featuring applique pieces of Lara's old baby clothes. Made with fabric left over from the quilt, fully lined, and with interfacing between the front and back to give it a little sturdiness. I really like how it came out.

April 28, 2008

Puddle Jumping Haikus

Staying in the house
Is never a good option
Even rain beckons

Small jumps get bigger
Water droplets are dancing
Oh, no, my wet pants

Rustic rusted poles
Leaning on wet scaffolding
Macro button art

Sharp-Looking Kitchen

Another great little kitchen, this one from Melissa:

I love the black edging on the backsplash - it really gives it a tailored look.

April 26, 2008

Sam and Inna and Mikey and Benji

A chilly but delightful morning with Sam and Inna and their Mikey and Benji. I think Lara got a kick out of being the older one who can do things they can't. Here, she demonstrates "throwing the ball" by holding on to the ball, running with it, and then just handing it to whomever asked her to throw. We're still working out the whole "playing catch" concept. Mostly she seems to think that throwing is an inefficient way of doing a hand-off. And let's face it - the way she throws? It is.

These two are total cuties.

This picture is completely emblematic of our morning. Mikey was instantly smitten with Lara and spent our visit crawling around after her and doing his best to communicate. Lara patiently tolerated his affections. At one point, we heard cries of distress from the playroom, and Misha discovered Mikey attempting to pull himself up by holding onto Lara's hair, while totally confused, she was leaning backwards and yelling for help.

Chicks, man. Maybe pummeling them with toys is the answer.

April 24, 2008

Fashion Show Thursday

Some new duds for Lara from MiniBoden. Now I don't work for them or anything, but I really have to say that their kids clothes are totally phenomenal. Excellent quality, actually designed with children in mind (i.e. no tarty street-walker getups for the prepubescent set. Ahem, are you listening, Bloomingdale's?). Anyhoo, Lara has the best grandmoms ever. Here is a sampling of the summer goodies...

Super-cool applique pants from Marina (thanks, Mommy!):

Mom, did you know that they are crazily adjustable? She's going to wearing these babies till college!

Perfect polka dot dress from Nancy (thanks, Mommy-in-law!):

And I couldn't resist showing you my cute outfit today. This shirt with this skirt.

Could I be any more awkward trying to photograph myself? I have no idea what to do with my hands/head/eyes/etc. when taking my own picture. I think Tyra would probably yell at me.

April 23, 2008

More Stencilies

Kari's son with an umbrella. These umbrella ones come out great!

Oils - Kari's son

I do have to say that in real life the green is quite a bit more muted... couldn't make the camera cooperate. Speaking of which, does anyone out there by any chance happen to know how artists make prints out of their original paintings? Is that something a print shop can do - including taking the initial photo of the original painting?

In any case, Christina's baby girl. Those tiny fists crack me up.

Oils - Christina's daughter

April 21, 2008

Sunday Morning

A few minutes on the playground early in the morning yesterday. We had it to ourselves for quite a while, and found some left-behind chalk.

What would it be like if Lara were twins? Two smiley smirky babies... whew. Well, at least the pictures would be cute cute cute.

April 20, 2008

Happy Passover!

We had a lovely Passover weekend, matzo balls aplenty.

I made Lara a dress for the occasion out of this ridiculously cute fabric that I had been hoarding until reasonably sure I wouldn't screw up.

Shirred dress

Shirred dress

Shirred dress for Passover

The fabric is Heather Ross's "Lightning Bugs and Other Mysteries," which is now all gone! I used Vegbee's wonderful tutorial on shirring. All her guides are faboo - and check out her stuff on Craftster and Etsy. Totally great clothes.

April 17, 2008

Mr. Forty-two Roads behind the camera

Some really gorgeous shots of a really gorgeous day. I always love Misha's eye.

April 16, 2008

Skirts are fun to make

So I made another one. I can't seem to keep up with the weather for Lara - nothing for it but to just keep making small clothes.

I just found the Alabama Chanin store and am hugely inspired (and really wishing I had $120 to spend on tshirts!). I'll definitely go check out their new book of projects. In the meantime - a quick reverse embroidery to accent a little play skirt:

Blue reverse embroidery skirt

Refashioned from a few different tshirts, and some embroidery floss. The lettuce edging on the hem is done by pulling just the very edge of the jersey apart with two fingers every half-inch or so.

Here is a detailed shot of the embroidery itself:

Blue reverse embroidery skirt (detail)

April 15, 2008


Last night's dinner. Rice, beans, and guacamole - delicious Trader Joe's things. Eggplant tomato caviar - scrumptious and handmade. And this chicken? I rocked this chicken's world.


When it comes to lunch and dinner food combinations, the policy around here has pretty much always been along the lines of "what's in the fridge and tastes good?" Don't get me wrong - I love watching the Top Chef judges mull over whether the slightly acid quality of the sauce overwhelms the sweetness of the potatoes, whether those flavors enhance the protein selection, and whether all of that combines poorly with the choice of garnish. But those very composed meals feel very traditional and fifties to me.

When I am being self-complimentary, I call my style "tapas" - you know, a little of this, a little of that, things that taste good in and of themselves, but don't necessarily need to be resolved with one another. I guess a more realistic description is Joey eating Rachel's accidental trifle/shepherd's pie combo - "What's not to like? Custard? Good. Jam? Good. Meat? Goooooood." Wow, people, that's a blast from the referential past. Seriously, remember "Friends"? That was a good show.

Anyway, I thought I'd share the eggplant and chicken recipes since they are easy and good - and, you know, the delicate acidity of one enhances but subtly downplays the exuberant umami of the other.

Eggplant Caviar:

- Bake a large eggplant whole, unpeeled, at 375 degrees for approximately 90 minutes.
- Wait for it to cool, peel, and finely mince the eggplant meat.
- Grate enough tomatoes into the eggplant for mixture to assume the color in the photograph - or add more to taste.
- Grate one medium white onion into mixture.
- Press one clove of garlic into mixture.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Optionally, add two-three tablespoons of olive oil (that's what my grandmother does, but I like it without the oil also).
- Let sit in the fridge for at least a couple of hours - best overnight.

You can eat it plain, like salad, or do what Misha does: multi-grain toast, a layer of goat cheese, topped with the caviar.

Chicken Whose World I Rocked:

The chicken is even more fun, because it just involves staring at the inside of your fridge door and rediscovering all the condiments that you no longer knew you had. At least that's what I did to come up with the following marinade:

- Soy sauce
- Juice of a fresh lemon
- Mustard
- Olive oil
- Balsamic salad dressing

Mix together "some" of each, or add in other things you think might go (maybe ketchup? maybe BBQ sauce? maybe Worcestershire sauce? maybe honey? or for the very daring, maybe Vegemite/Marmite?), let the chopped up chicken parts sit in the marinade overnight. Bake at 350 degrees, for 45 minutes, basting every 15. (Or, if you're like me, instead of basting, you will just take tongs and swish each chicken part around in the jus at the bottom of the pan and close the oven door again.)

Oh, and cyndyava asked about stock for my kitchen sink soup. I don't make stock ahead of time - vegetable stock is basically mirepoix (diced carrots, onion, and celery), boiled in water with spices and potentially other things. As long as you have those on hand, and put them in the soup water first and let them boil for a while before you add other things, you're ok for stock.

April 14, 2008

Why it takes fifty minutes to walk five blocks

April 14 - 1

Lara stops at every single stoop on the way.

April 14 - 3

Also every cement paving brick.

April 14 - 2

Also every crack between those bricks.

April 14 - 4

Every flower bed. Every window.

And then she laughs and runs in the other direction.

April 13, 2008

In the Pipeline

I feel like whenever I take a few days break from the blog I fall out of the habit of taking pictures of the day. The last few days have been almost summertime here, and every single day I forgot to grab the camera as we headed outside. Lara's main delight about the warm weather is the mud. "I wanna play my mud!" she yells, as she lets handfulls of newly deposited fertilizer run between her fingers. "I wanna play my mud!" she protests, when Misha and I object to her tasting it or shoving it into her ears. But she is not all nature goddess - as soon as she stands up, it's "Ah, ah! Wipe my hands pweeze!"

Meanwhile, I've been toiling in my workshop (I wish - more like crouching in a corner of the bedroom), hard at work to make some more cardboard playthings. I've been so extremely gratified at how much people are loving the Little Kitchen. Next up? Some doll furniture. I think I've worked up the bed to my satisfaction:

Doll Bed

Now for the chair.

April 7, 2008

Spring & Answers

Lovely first bits of spring on my desk.

Bits of Spring

I've been a bit lax in answering all the questions you guys have asked in the comments section, even though I have been greedily using all the advice you have given. Thank you so much for all of things you write, answers as well as questions! It's not that I mind answering, it's just that I'm lazy... so I thought I'd make a post to gather them all up.

- tiff and emsres wondered how I made this denim skirt for Lara. The skirt was easy to make because although it looks like it features godets, they are actually faux. I made the front and back of the skirt the same way: four hemmed pieces of denim, each about 4"x10", sewn together at angles with each other. Then, another piece of semicircular fabric is sewn behind. This gives the illusion of godets!

- Terri asked about patterns for these flowy tops. Terry, I'm so sorry, I don't think I could do a pattern for these! My sewing style (ahem, read: blind stabbings in the dark) generally just involve massive amounts of try-on and error rather than premeditated pattern. The tops are basically combinations of rectangles - and what you see in the pics is pretty much what you get. I don't sew well enough to have any sewing secrets :)

- The Alpha Team asked where I got the felt for Lara's name book. Amazingly enough, the felt was from a thing of off-cuts that you can buy by the bag at JoAnn's or Michael's craft stores. I think mostly this fact just highlights my cheapskate quality, especially when I see people in blogland using the super-fancy wool felt. Eh, the acrylic looks nice too!

- and finally, about this monster veggie skull thing: I have on final authority (Misha's grandmother) that this is celeriac (aka celery root). She sends along this recipe (can you tell she's a serious cook?):

3-3/12 lbs celeriac (about two of them)
1 lb baking potatoes
1 celery bunch with leaves
6-7 shallots or half of large vidalia or other sweet onion or 2 leeks
1 1/2 tsp dried thyme or 5-6 sprigs fresh thyme
1 tsp salt
60 oz. chicken stock
2 packets of star porcini mushrooms
3/4 cup water

- dice veggies
- put 1/4 cup butter or canola oil in large soup pot and heat
- stir in diced vegetables, thyme and salt
- cover and cook, stirring from time to time, for 10-15 minutes, but do not let
veggies brown
- add chicken stock
- dilute porcini in water in the microwave
- add porcini to stock, butter, and veggie mixture
- cook for 40-45 minutes until all veggies tender, then puree mixture
- add salt to taste
- serve as is, with dollop of sour cream, or yogurt, or with a sprinkle of chopped fresh parsley

April 6, 2008

The scarf and the kitchen sink

Lara's new thing is stuffing my scarf into my mouth as I carry her. My new thing is tickling her while she's doing it.

Incidentally, this scarf is another "runs in the family" item - knitted by Misha's aunt Amy and the only one I ever wear.

Unrelatedly, the "kitchen sink" soup this week came out really yummy. This one is half farmer box, half Trader Joe's: it has carrots, onions, celery, bok choi, white beans, yellow and red peppers, potatoes, and fresh and dried parsley (fresh for the beginning to make the stock, dried later in the cooking). Am I the only one who eats all soups with a dollop of sour cream? I think I need to pass that one on to Lara, along with eating jam from those little containers in restaurants with a spoon.

"Kitchen sink" veggie soup

April 4, 2008

April 3, 2008

It Runs in the Family

Me and my dad, way back in the day - um, the 70's obviously. Look at his hair. (Incidentally, you be the judge: does Lara look like me as a baby?) We are cute, yes, but that is not my point - rather, check out the amazing knitted jacket I am wearing. Where could I have gotten such fantabulous clothes, you ask? Well, my mom was a crazily talented knitter, creating wildly cool stuff for me, and some for herself of course. I still remember her blue needle case with its assortment of plastic, wooden, straight, and circular needles. For a long time now she has been a lapsed knitter, but I guess it's like riding a really complicated bicycle that you sort of forget to how ride once you stop, but can pick up again when someone shows you the basics again. Ok, nothing like a bicycle. But still, check out what she is in the midst of knitting for Lara:

Dress for Lara made by my mom (in progress)

Super-gorgeous! I love it. She is worried about fit (since she is in Moscow and since Lara is a reluctant model at best), but I am psyched about this dragon-fly stitch detail on the bodice:

Dress for Lara made by my mom - detail (in progress)

Yay, mom! (Ok, everyone comment to encourage her to finish it. She gets easily discouraged.)

April 2, 2008

Birthday Crown for Juliet

Ok, this is my new favorite toddler present. Cutie pie Juliet turns 2 in two days, and this is for her:

Birthday Crown for Juliet

Made of bits of felt, beads, and velcro closure for size alteration.

April 1, 2008

Another Little Skirt

Reconned denim skirt for Lara

These are fun to make! Almost as much fun as they are to pose in...

The skirt is made from an old pair of jeans and pieces of a cotton ironing board cover from the IKEA As-Is bin. By the way, the book I posed the skirt with in the first picture is Pablo Bernasconi's Captain Arsenio: Inventions and (Mis)Adventures in Flight, which we found this weekend. It is really hilarious and has great art, though it is still a little too advanced for Lara. Also, in the kitchen picture you can see the Lara art wall - we have entirely covered one of the kitchen walls with her drawings in these IKEA frames (their colors are so perfect for kid's art!).