Sunday, January 24, 2010

Tile Stoned

I (we) have spent a big part of weekend planning out the color, material and space schemes for future bathroom. After hours of staring on every possible tile in the 20 mile perimeter, after mild disagreements and compromising, after finding exactly the right colors

only to learn that the materials are inappropriate and the desired shapes unavailable, the decision was (preliminary) made.

To relax a little, to get the tiles from my head for a while, and to have something sweet ready for our friend R. (the great wizard of his craft) who is creating for us the perfect new space, I have made the banana - cranberry -walnut bread. I tried the recipe from R.L. Beranbaum's Bread Bible, but I (somehow) completely messed up the prescribed sequence. I mixed flour, sugar and baking soda first, than added sour cream, realized the mistake - the sour cream was supposed to be whisked with butter and sugar together, than with eggs and the solids were supposed to be add as the last. Oh well, I contemplated a fresh start for a second, than voted against it, added butter and eggs to whatever I already had instead, followed by mashed banana, cranberries and toasted nuts, scraped the mass to the greased form and waited without any expectation to see what will come up from the oven. And the miracle happened, the bread is actually very good.

The edges are a bit on the crunchy side, partly because of fancy silicon form shape I am using in place of simple loaf, but since the recipe calls for a lot of sugar and a whole stick of butter, the brownish crust tastes a lot like caramel. I used forgotten fresh cranberries i got originally for Thanksgiving sauce I never made and surprisingly they survived the two months in fridge quite fine, I had to discard just a small amount and the remaining ones were not even dried as I would expect. I as well toasted the walnuts for required 7 minutes, I have never tried that before and I have to say it made the bread more fragrant and it definitely enhanced the flavor.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Green Is On My Mind

The color green I mean for now. I did know immediately that our new laundry (my craft) room should be in green&white theme. The combination has some freshness in it, it is associated with something bright and clean in my head, very proper for the main function of the room I think. And we have white appliances anyway (and now IKEA white cabinets as well), so it would be quite easy to accomplish, all we have to do is to choose the right shade for at least (!) two walls.
So, here we are with bunch of sample color cards.

I really liked the "Granny Smith Apple", but inconveniently that particular shade is not from our tested paint producer, so we may end up with "Citron". Oh well, close enough.

All inspired, I started another small project in green and white - it will be a wreath for the main doors, for St. Patrick day and spring time generally.

Parts of it may look a little bit like the one I have seen in Purl Bee , and latter on I may use it as a wall decoration for the new room (if it looks good enough:))
To conclude the report on recent green happenings in our home, my petite orchid is blooming!

It was getting ready for a while and I was watching impatiently and now the time of glory came for the gentle forerunner of the spring ...

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

North by North West Delights

I was introduced to wonderful dish on Saturday family post-xmas gift exchange & dinner in Alexandria. The dish has mysterious name succotash, apparently coming from native American tribe of Narragansett language, meaning "boiled kernels"; the tribe used to live in north east part of the States, around today's Rhode Island / Connecticut area. Because of the relative unexpensiveness and versatility, the dish got really popular during the Great Depression (I have read while researching the topic). Well, it is kind of proper timing for rediscovery I guess.

Anyway, it was so good and had that spring healthy feel about it that I just had to try it. There is endless choice of versions on internet, so after going through it for a while to get a basic idea, I just improvised in kitchen. I started with sauteing onions and garlic with chopped bacon and turkey ham, than i added bag of frozen corn kernels and lima beans, small cup of leftover heavy cream, about the same amount of water, some freshly ground salt&pepper, thyme, parsley, pinch of nutmeg and splash of lemon juice to balance the sweetness of the corn. I was cooking all that in deep wok-like pan, so I just covered it than and let it simmer for about 20 min, till the beans were done.

It made a quite simple and very tasty light dinner, with toasted and garlic-smeared wholegrain baguette on side.

Even W. cheerfully ate his portion of not-so-favorite limas :)

While simmering the above dish, I gave another try to the recipe for delicious nutty bundt cake I got from M.

Well, it was delicious when he made it for us in his new house in Laramie, but my previous attempts to replicate were not so great. I was not going to give up on that one though.
So, I whipped 5 yolks with a mug of raw sugar, added mug of heavy cream to it and folded in very soft 5 egg whites snow (as M. insisted). Meanwhile, on side, I mixed 2 mugs of all purpose flour with a mug of ground nuts, teaspoon of baking powder and chopped fistful of dark chocolate chips and than whisked all that into the egg yumminess, with final touch of some vanilla&lemon extract and Jamaican rum.
I had form ready (greased and floured) to fill and oven heated to 400F. As M. advised, after couple minutes I lowered that to 355F & set timer to 30 min (I added about 15 more min latter, but I wanted to be on safe side, last time I definitely overdone the baking). And, voila, I did it right this time.

It was perfect, light and moist and sweet just enough. Thanks M.!

Monday, January 18, 2010


That is the state of our home now ... Well, it just feels like it since our three poor ones (Zoe, Floyd and visiting Cocoa) are confined together in the small storage room while The Construction is going on every where else downstairs. When the weather allows, we let them out, but it was cold and raining whole day Sunday (it is still January after all), so by the evening they were sick and tired of each other and the space (the lack of it that is). Oh well, they will have to hold on for couple more days until the Part 1 is done.
Meanwhile I have seen some irresistible dogsies on my walks and trips; in such occasion one just has to be quick and push the release button fast enough ... :)

the white one was making faces, he liked to pose (DC downtown)

we met these two during our Thanksgivig weekend trip to old Alexandria (in front of The Torpedo Factory Artworks), I recall they had some jingle bells somewhere too ...

these guys (girls?) live in Charleston, the poodles were barking to guard their garden, the little ones were just looking, knowing they have some back up if things get ugly. It is funny how all of them came in pairs - may be we should get ready for a really big water :)

Friday, January 15, 2010

Would You Believe ?!?

I met my fellow Czech today morning. Well, I met his/her car to be specific, in our downotwn garage, behind the first curve, there it was. I could not resist to stop traffic for a minute and snap a picture.

I never met the owner, so I wonder now ... what was he/she doing here, so far from (both) home(s) ... and how funny it is we had the same decoration idea :)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Jester And Whale

While wondering through very sunny but butt-freezing Savannah, we could not resist to peek into curious little antique store on the multilevel river bank. Interesting place; to enter, we had to cross a narrow foot bridge ...

Store owner specialty were apparently old glass goblets, he had tons of them on display everywhere. We browsed through all the knickknacks and found the Whale, we originally thought that is the door knocker (I was actually looking for one, not having a door bell at home) but we learned it is a paper clip. We liked it anyway. And just as we were about to leave - there he was, small brass door knocker in the shape of Jester.

Since that very figure represents my maiden name and it was reasonably priced, the deal was sealed. Only thing is, it may, in fact, not be a Jester but a creature called Dartmoor Pixie. They are living in the folk tales around the Devon and the Cornwall, they are slightly mischievous, fond of music and dancing, generally good hearted, they would even sometimes help with the household chores (great!). Oh, and they are nice to people who like them. We love you our little guy! :)

Saturday, January 9, 2010


New Year sure calls for new knitting project, so I cast on to make my favorite baby sweater - February jacket by EZ. I found an adult version on Ravelry so this one will be for myself, or for you, mom, if you finally decide to visit us:) It is going to be made with yarn I got last summer in Laramie, while visiting my dear friend M. and getting married in Boulder. They have surprisingly nice little yarn store in that forgotten part of world, with tons of hand dyed stuff. The husband of the yarn lady is photographer and she quite successfully tries to capture his pictures into dye colors. What an inspiring idea - I may try it one day! Among other things, I got there the "Alpine Lake" silk and wool mix and was just waiting for the right pattern and complimentary yarn to materialize :).

The colors of the yarn reminds me about stained glass window, so after some trial and errors I decided for black Malabrigo silk mix to go with it, in simple striping manner. And so far it works, even with the lacy part. Thanks to long drive home from Florida I made some progress already!

I as well finished W's Camouflage vest, just as the last year ended and in time for arctic weather we are experiencing right now in DC - 22-28 F!. I like the pattern and I like the result, it is nice fit without any need for alternations; I will for sure go back to the source (Twist Collective) for more in future, love the place.

Oh, and I decided to remake part of my Falling Leaves coat (Clasica coat from Vogue fall 2009). I am missing some of Burlap Telemark for front cables and the colorway is out of the production. I ordered the closest color I could find but it did not work with the rest of the coat, so I took apart the bottom edge (which was not in original pattern anyway and I did no like how it gathered the fabric) and will use the yarn to finish lapels.

The hood may end up being made from the dark violet color I got in attempt to get better match. It will be little bit like sky above the forest ;).

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Visiting South

We took our drive home from Florida slow, we planned for night stop in Savannah. Passing it so many times before, I have never been there and I wanted to finally see it. And than W. suggested we should go to Charleston as well since we were so close, even though it would mean a little detour. So we did and it was great, despite the cold and wind (around 0C in the morning!), sunny sharp day was waiting for us there.
Both cities sit on the rivers,

as proper colonial towns they have lots of mansions (which we have not really seen in S. but have seen plenty in Ch.) and old buildings generaly

in picture perfect down towns.

Savannah was built with some smart urban plan in mind, every couple blocks there is a shaded little square with lots of old tall trees, with curtains of spanish moss hanging from the branches, just like I have seen in civil war era movies; they must be a true oasis in hot summers.

The place is very plant friendly, weeds are sprouting from everywhere, like in hanging gardens of Babylon ...

Old Charleston is squished on peninsula created by confluence of two rivers flowing to the delta. The houses there would still fall into mansion category, but since there is so many of them, the yard space is somehow limited. But wow, people there managed to get from the little they have some charming "secret" gardens as I called them.

We had the best crab&roe soup I ever ate in old market place quarter and than we were on road again, we safely arrived home some 8 hours latter. It was adventurous and successful picture hunt day :)