Thursday, April 30, 2009

Steppin' Out: Hitting the big time!

The poppy necklace I created for oh ginger has not only been selling like hotcakes BUT it is currently featured on Modish by Jena, my new e-pal and fellow ginger!

Modish is a lovely blog full of design, craft, shopping and fine living inspiration. The selections Jena curates are proof that gorgeous style can be cultivated through living and buying handmade! I feel so honored to be part of a fantastic outfit suggestion such as this...the warm gray juxtaposed with the bright pop of red is divine!

Thank you so much!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Ice cream: you scream!

A few weeks ago, I told Ruby (goddaughter) a quick story about my favorite summer pastime. There was nothing more delightful to me than running outside in my [not at all revealing, ankle-length] nightgown whenever I heard the ice cream truck nearing my end of the street on a warm summer night. It was the most amazing scene...something quintessentially American, I think. Every house that contained a kid had its front door busted open and kids in all states of undress, before-after-during a meal, would run towards the street waving dollar bills in their hands, or tugging their curmudgeonly parents who reluctantly dipped into their wallets. And it was always so hard to choose! I remember always hating to get messy, and the rocket pop in red, white and blue was a certain mess-maker, but it was so good! The strawberry shortcake ice cream bars were awesome; so soft, sweet and bursting with artificial strawberry flavor. Or there was the latest novelty cartoon character with bubble gum eyeballs; my brother loved getting the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle variety but my mom always fought with him about swallowing the gum. In the end, your ice cream treat generally just melted down the front of your shirt, and you were left with a saccharin-sweet aftertaste and the persistent nudging of your parents to GO BRUSH YOUR TEETH.

Ruby and I decided that since it was warm enough, we would have to make ice cream sundaes. We went to the grocery store, picked out our preferred flavors of ice cream and all the fixins, and then went home to create our masterpieces. Ruby loves chocolate ice cream, so we scooped two large scoops of it for her, plopped it into the bowl and covered it with hot fudge, chocolate sprinkles, whipped cream and a few cherries. I chose butter pecan (chicks dig it) and garnished it similarly. We sat down at the table, drooling and oogling our masterpieces, and dug in. So scrumptious. I cannot tell you how delicious a sundae tastes...especially after going well over a year without one!

Now that summer is approaching, it's the perfect time to dig out the ol' ice cream scoop and try some classic sundae recipes, don't you think? Well, I was extra inspired by this article I saw in the LA Times recently, wherein David Lebovitz suggests some interesting and unorthodox flavor combinations for our beloved ice cream. Everything from carrot cake ingredients to buckwheat are suggested in this article, which served to remind me of my top secret ice cream topping love of all loves. Wait for it! NERDS. I'm telling you, Nerds are the jam mixed into ice cream! Invite your family to a wacky ice cream taste test and have everyone mix in a random and unusual ice cream ingredient or two. You'll never know what might work! I wouldn't be surprised if warm french fries showed up in the mix, or even potato chips. The sky's the limit, isn't it?! If it's delicious, you could always suggest your flavor to Ben & Jerry's!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The BIG News: We're having a baby

So I told you in my hot French Lady dancing post that I had some news about a new addition to our family and this is the post wherein I reveal the exciting news. Prepare yourself!

Em and I are having a baby. A soft, tumbly, four-legged, snorty pug baby, to be more precise! We're just about 10 days away from picking up our little man and we are both, individually and collectively, shaking with excitement. We elected to go with a pure bred pooch for our first dog for a number of reasons, but for all the animal activists out there, rest assured that we have many MANY rescue and shelter dogs in our future. This is both a special treat to us and a way for us to learn and grow with a pup who has limited previous training and learned behaviors. We both feel like this experience will make us better parents to a shelter or rescue doggie in the future!

Our pug puppy's name is Seamus Fenway. Seamus, because we are both a little Irish, and because we both love the name. Fenway, because we both agreed that he needed a middle name, and Em loves the Boston Red Sox more than words can express. And to be honest with you, I love the Bo' Sox more than I thought I could ever love a professional sports team...especially Big Papi. He's my favorite. When Seamus learns how to swing a baseball bat, I will teach him the signature Papi spit-in-yer-glove manuever.

I can guarantee you that Seamus stories and pictures will become a regular feature here at Queering Domesticity, so I will be adding a tab to the top of the page so you can easily track down all of his pictures and such whenever you like. Expect more Seamus wonderment on May 9th, when we bring our little man home!

You can also track Seamus updates by becoming his fan on Facebook or visiting his Twitter page!

Recipe Tuesday: This bread is bananas!


I was walking with my friend a few moments ago (in public), and as I proceeded to start some sweet ass dance moves to Lady Gaga's "Poker Face" with myself and I, he very casually announced, "Meaghan, you must be a gay man". NO DUH, buddy! I've also been accused of being a walking Broadway musical, as I can turn just about any moment in life into a ridiculous song. Two of my favorite people to duo with when I make with the singing-dancing-Broadway-making are my brother or Megan. I bet she's doing some sweet ass cheerleading moves right now in her Chicago studio apartment reading the title of this post. Oh, and this entire paragraph has nothing to do with Recipe Tuesday.

RECIPE TUESDAY! Hooray! I realized a few weeks ago that I had not yet shared with y'all my Mom's amazingspectacularOMGnothingisbetterthanthis Banana Bread recipe. Now that I've un-hermited myself, it's time to share. So grab two medium size loaf pans, your fanciest apron, and the best butter you've ever tasted because this recipe is GOOOOOOOOOD.

This bread is best with wildly overripe bananas. I like to take spotty bananas and throw them in the freezer until I'm ready to make bread. They're typically fine there for a few months. Just pull them out of the freezer 30 minutes to an hour before you're ready to bake so they can thaw. They will look and feel absolutely disgusting, but the moistness of the bread generated by the overly ripe bananas and buttermilk will win you over.

Banana Bread

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

¾ c. butter
1½ c. sugar
1½ c. mashed bananas (usually 3 regular sized 'nanners)
2 eggs, well beaten
1 tsp. vanilla
2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
¾ tsp. salt
½ c. buttermilk (<-- essential!)
¾ c. chopped nuts (I prefer pecans, but walnuts work)

Cream butter and sugar together in large mixing bowl. Blend mashed bananas, eggs and vanilla well into butter mixture. Sift dry ingredients and add to mixture a little at a time, alternating with buttermilk. Stir in nuts.

Grease and flour loaf pan(s). Fill pan(s) about 2/3 full. I like to line what will be the crease (center of the loaf) with pecan halves, before baking, to make things look pretty. Makes 1 large or 2 medium loaves. Bake for about 1 hour 15 minutes.

[Banana bread picture courtesy Hetleigh76 @ Flickr]

Monday, April 27, 2009

Crafting Queer: The road less traveled

Let me begin this post by saying THANKS(!) for the break. I think I really needed some ways, to confirm that I'm still into QD and everything I'm doing here, and also to just give my overworked brain a rest. I don't even know if you noticed, but nevertheless, THANKS!

Contrary to what you might think of me, I'm not really a homemaker. I desperately long to be the half of my relationship that takes care of all things domestic...everything from bills to casseroles. Five years ago, if any part of my brain had considered this, I would've smacked myself senseless. But now that I'm more settled into who I am, I really can't see it any other way. I'd like to have a kid, hopefully, one day and live in the city or the country in a decently sized home with Em, who is much more career-ambitious than I (which isn't a slight against myself, because I'm fully equipped to be a career girl, I just can't stand having a day job). Em and I, as a couple, want everything that straight couples want - from the picket fence to the little doggie and the weird mailbox embellishments (don't worry, dear, I don't mean a Mallard duck sticker or anything). Knowing this, and working towards this, doesn't account for the extra amount of energy I'd like to focus on my "business" - that being oh ginger, Queering Domesticity and any other trouble I aspire to get myself into. The simple act of wanting this doesn't take into account numerous frustrations mapped out before us.

It's just so much more complicated, because we're queer.

Jena over at Modish's Biz Tips wrote a really interesting post the other day (she provides some really great links, too) about self-employed crafters, artists and entrepreneurs and how the features and interviews scattered about the internet would suggest that they are predominantly blessed to have supportive (financially or otherwise) boyfriends/husbands/partners in their lives. She asks her readers to elaborate on this, too. It really goes without saying that these supportive male-counterparts, to an overwhelmingly female-driven field, undeniably help to see that one's entrepreneurial aspirations become functional realities. I would even say that most "mainstream" craft/art supportive communities gloss right over this reality, rarely deconstructing how this happens and who might not benefit from such an arrangement. I read Etsy's Quit Your Day Job and Featured Seller blogs fairly religiously, and while there are sometimes interviews where the Etsian seems single (or its unclear), I cannot recall one covering a queer crafter, for example. But I know Etsy loves queers! What's the deal?

What lies between the gratitude reminiscent of an Academy Award speech and the stressful, creativity-sucking reality of an unrelated day job are the queer people like me and many of my counterparts, who have to negotiate a much less flexible series of life supporting necessities in order to see a business from concept to fruition, is essentially heterosexual privilege. There isn't a softer way to describe this; also, before anyone throws up their defenses, this isn't a harsh judgment. If you examine the landscape before me, for example, you have to account for the inconsistencies and simple lack of access available to me as a result of my being queer.

I cannot go, for example, without health insurance which means Em would have to have a job with a company that offered domestic partner benefits, or I would have to work into my business plan the incredibly high cost of being self-insured. Also, I live in a state that does not recognize contractual relationships between people that could insinuate or mimic same-sex relationships, so if Em and I ever ended our relationship, I could not access the benefits provided by her employment such as supplementary income, health insurance, retirement, etc. Additionally, the benefits of marriage would not apply to our relationship regardless of whether we were married in a same-sex marriage supportive state, as our current state does not recognize them. The very matter-of-fact break down is that I would have to do it all myself.

I'm not afraid of trying to do it all myself, and I don't doubt for a second that there are successful artists, crafters and entrepreneurs who do it all by themselves. What I do not see are blog posts, stories, interviews and other press covering these people as it relates to crafting, art and the general creative experience. The basic tenets of feminism suggest that we (as women) should desire to be self-supportive and sustaining, and that we can in fact create those realities for ourselves. I find it disabling, however, to constantly be exposed to a version of success that I cannot readily aspire to emulate. Where are the stories about single people making it big? Where are the stories about queer crafters fighting to carve out a life for themselves by doing what they love? Why aren't these the bigger success stories? I challenge the people who are queer and coupled, single and queer, or single and straight, to stand up and tell us your stories. Is it possible? Ever the optimist, I believe I can do it. Everyone else needs to see it's possible, too.

I suggest you visit QueerCraft, a blog dedicated to queer crafting, and also the Queer Crafter Collective, an organization I started with some friends to uplift and support queer crafting in our Nation's Capital. Ideally, I think QueerCraft and/or the QCC going viral like the Craft Mafia family would be a fantastic platform upon which queer crafters could address issues, find support and change the face of modern craft worldwide.

I encourage an open dialogue here, which might turn into an impetus for change for bloggers and creative sites, or (ideally) more visibility for queer crafters!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Break: Dance?

I'm taking a bit of a break from QD to absolve myself of writer's block and do some crafty stuff. OH, and prepare for a special and exciting addition to our family.

In the meantime, get down with your bad self -OR- descendez avec votre mauvais individu!

I cannot be held responsible for anything in this song that could remotely be deemed offensive. That being said, I will take offense if you don't dance to it.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Quick Find: doe-c-doe gift tags

I thought my readers might be interested in both this fabulous blog, doe-c-doe, and the even more fabulous gift tags the lady behind the blog has created! Check them out!

First we've got Vintage Button Tags! PDF available for personal use only at doe-c-doe's blog:

AND she's made fabulous Vintage Bias Trim tape tags! PDF at her site, again for personal use only at the blog:

I can't wait to use these for presents! So lovely.

Treasure: oh ginger gone green!

Courtesy of my favorite vintage shop, 26 Olive Street, oh ginger is featured in a treasury over on that fancy fan-dangled place, Etsy! Check it out, leave a comment, get this treasury noticed and oh ginger (and all the fantastic crafters and artists I'm sharing space with) on the front page!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Oh be hives: The crap we deal with

I'm talking about allergies, kids. Allergies are serious business. For some people, standing in a room with a peanut is akin to hugging a guillotine. For others, slip in a morsel of casein and they've got an itchy rash on their butt for a few hours. I always predicted that as I aged, I would mimick the allergies of my father...simple, plain ol' springtime allergies like ragweed and pollen, and perhaps something fancy like cat or pecans. When I found out last year that I was allergic to dairy and almonds, I was kind of devastated yet simultaneously resigned. Rather than hugging a guillotine or a rash on my butt, I had persistent and unrelenting hives for weeks on end. I sat sobbing in my doctor's office begging for prednisone when, in my right mind and body, I would've run screaming from them. There was nothing anyone could do to get rid of the hives that had haunted me since I was a kid. Every five to ten years, without warning, plump and painful welts would spring up on my body and face. They would itch and then ache unmercifully. Days turned into weeks turned into months with these things, and nothing helped but doses of steroids strong enough to turn an ox into a tyrannosaurus rex.

After seeing an allergist that had cared for me when I was a kid and dealing with the same issues, at my general practioner's urging, I was left with a similar diagnosis that I was given as a teenager: STOP BEING SO EMOTIONAL, MEAGHAN. I kind of felt like Dr. V, my GP, was literally exasperated and kind of wanted him to slam his head into the wall with me as we explored the reasons why all of this was happening. The year prior, he helped me navigate the reasons why I couldn't breathe. This year he couldn't even help me feel normal in my own body. Hives are unlike any beast you could encounter in a fairy tale or in a dark and twisty alley. They're sneaky, invasive and evasive. There wasn't anything I could do to fix things.

These are a mild grouping of hives from last year.

I went and saw a new, highly recommended, bell and whistles allergist last Spring, while securely positioned at my wit's end. Literally, I had become apathetic about the fight and was just willing to become a hermit if that's what it meant. When I sat down in his office after inconclusive subcutaneous allergy testing on my forearm (which is not common practice, but it was the only place I didn't have hives), he told me that he was optimistic that he could fix my problem. I trusted him and I don't know why. I was so depressed and resigned to my fate that extending a modicum of trust seemed like a rather unusual benevolence on my part, but I did it. I went home and took the meds he prescribed and within a few days, I had some blood work done for food allergies and other ailments commonly occurring in those that have hives for no reason like cholesterol, diabetes and auto-immune disorders. When my allergist's nurse practitioner called and said that I was allergic to dairy and almonds, I was RELIEVED. While my friends and family were shriveling into pain and misery at the thought of me never being able to eat fondue, I was already headed to the grocery store to grab some soy milk.

Apparently, the connection between my dairy and almond allergy and my hives was psychosomatic. As it turns out, the nurse practitioner overstated my blood test results. I wasn't allergic to either. At all. I've been dairy and almond free for a YEAR for no good reason. Humph. I have a whole host of other things wrong with me, but again, no reason for the hives. while people around me are throwing their fists into the air rejoicing my new-found freedom, I'm stumped. Still, even after some cheese!

I haven't had hives since late summer 2008, which is awesome. But according to my internal clock and my allergist, I can expect them again. I have chronic idiopathic urticaria. There is no known cause or cure and I can expect flare ups randomly throughout the rest of my life. Why are our bodies so weird? What is the evolutionary purpose of having something happen to you for no known reason? Do I live in fear of another flare up or do I just continue on hoping I forget about them and that the forgetfulness will be some sort of psychological cure on its own? Is this psychological? Hormonal? There are so many questions that are completely unanswerable.

Also, as it turns out, I don't have any allergies. At all; not a one. But my body interacts with the world as though I do have allergies. I know there are a lot of skeptics in this world, especially as it relates to medicine. And I can't send you all to my allergist, but I can recommend something, I think:
Find a physician who trusts you to trust yourself. Don't diagnose yourself with anything without consulting a physician. Don't trust their diagnosis without asking a number of questions. Whether you're concerned about springtime allergies or a strange rash in your armpits, sometimes the solution is not only removing that which irritates your body. Often, knowing why your body does what it does can help you interact with the world in a better way. Allergy testing is covered by most insurance companies and is really a worthwhile test to have done.
As it turns out, my allergist is keeping me on many of the prescriptions I've been taking for the past year. He's adding a steroid nose spray because my nasal passages are smaller than a child's (see, weird stuff I didn't know until he attempted to perform a rhinoscopy!) and a fierce anti-biotic to eliminate a sinus infection in three of my four sets of sinus cavities...including the one in my brain (yes, there's one there, too) revealed by the CT-scan he performed. Oh, and he also prescribed a cup of vanilla yogurt with almonds on top because "[I] deserve it".

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Giveaway: And we have a winner!

Hey everyone! Thank you so much for stopping by Queering Domesticity and entering my first (of many) giveaway(s)! I had a lot of fun putting it together and even if you didn't win, please patronize the shops who were generous enough to donate a prize for the event!

And now we have...THE WINNER!

I used the Random Integer Generator because it seems that's what people do. Here are the results!

Ms. Megan - I will be e-mailing you!

Winners - not of the prize but at life in general (!) - please sign up for my mailing list (left hand column) so you can be notified of the next giveaway!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Vintage Friday: A shop this time

Vintage Fridays have, thus far, been themed posts. I've tried to spend a decent amount of time collecting interesting things for you all to see, and hopefully unique concepts and perspectives on how to work with those things. This week, in order to conserve time, I'm going to feature a vintage shop from Etsy versus a themed post!

This week's Vintage Friday featured shop is Blue Bell Bazaar. Not only does this shop's owner price her wares fairly (most less than $50), but she's managed to collect a very lovely and diverse assortment of vintage pieces. There's a number of vintage glassware from apothecaries and labs which would serve as great bathroom accessories, glove molds which are great accent pieces and also fun to use in photography (I have a small hand mold that I use in my Etsy shop, for example) and also other home decor finds and even a little bit of jewelry. There are a few art pieces, vintage billiard balls, those quirky and fun alphabet block word sets that a lot of shops are doing lately, and lovely vases as well.

I'm most fond of the large letters in the variety of materials that Blue Bell Bazaar sells, including the magnets which would make a fantastic statement on a humdrum refrigerator. She also has a small assortment of Christmas/holiday decorations which I hope hope hope are something she expands on as autumn and winter approaches.

In general, I'm really pleased that Etsy supports and encourages vintage sellers and curators on their site. What might seem simple and lackluster in a cluttered antique or thrift shop to the average person could be wildly enticing with creative scene-setting and lighting by a seasoned, educator vintage connoisseur. Blue Bell Bazaar will be one of many vintage shops I plan to feature on Vintage Friday.

Happy shopping!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Knock knock: Well, have ya?

[click the image to be transported to the original post]

Community impact: The Biggest Little Garden Planter

There is a lot of posturing and judgment that springs forth (pun intended?) every year around this time, when people with the time, funds and energy are planting little gardens in their backyards and in the pots that take over their balconies and terraces. Or if you don't have access to time or energy, you can pay a hefty price to support a CSA (community-supported agriculture) program in your area. I've found CSAs in the DC Metro area cost anywhere from $100 or so upwards to more than $600, depending on the schedule and the produce you're interested in acquiring. That's a hefty price for a lot of people who could be better served by cultivating a small garden of their own, with seed prices next to nothing and dirt and water relatively inexpensive and plentiful. But like I said, what if you don't have the financial resources in order to care for a mini-garden, let alone start one?

Shift to New Westminster, a Canadian city where 70% of the residents live in apartments and 25% qualify as low income. Diane Cairns, a local resident, was concerned about the health and welfare of the citizens of her city, so she conceived a plan to help them and the environment. She designed and developed The Biggest Little Garden in Town program and planter, which is designed to fit onto the smallest apartment balconies and through narrow doorways. Constructed of rot-proof cedar, these planters have been (and continue to be) distributed around greater New Westminster to all residents living in apartments and townhouses. Her program is supported, and recently congratulated, by United Way and the City of New Westminster.

Her plan:
First - let’s get every person living in New Westminster having access to fresh, home-grown vegetables.

Then – (10 years from now?) let’s have.…

* vegetables growing in every nook and cranny in New Westminster
* streets lined with veggie planters
* every parking lot bordered with veggie planters
* vegetables growing in parks, schools, alleys, courtyards
* every public building (hospitals, libraries, community centres) surrounded by fruit trees.

Could New Westminster be world renowned for being the urban city that is bursting with fruits and vegetables?
The most delightful part of her program is the fact that these planters, which are designed with three easy-to-reach tiers and a small portion of latice to support bean and squash vines, and the accompanying soil and seeds are provided FREE to the citizens of New Westminster. Each recipient of a Biggest Little Garden in Town planter is asked to signed a "contract" which commits them for a year's time to the cultivation and consumption of the "fruits of their labor":
As a member I understand that I will receive a container to suit my needs, soil and vegetable plants/seeds of my choice. I will care for the vegetable plants as they grow.

I will ensure the vegetables are eaten by either my family or friends or I will donate them to the food bank. I promise that no food will be wasted.

I understand I am permitted to keep the containers from one year to the next as long as I am a member of the 'Biggest Little Garden in Town'. If I become unable or unwilling to maintain the garden or continue to be a member, I will contact Fraserside and make arrangements to have the containers returned.
She's able to provide these visually stunning and practical planters to people of all ages, to teach them both the importance of taking care of themselves affordably with healthy fruits and veggies, but also how creating a sustainable garden (no matter how small) also helps the environment. This is such a valuable, judgment-free approach to helping people of all socio-economic backgrounds understand the value and importance of sustainable living.

The Biggest Little Garden planter is available for purchase locally from Fraserside for $175 Canadian (about $140 U.S.). Those who live outside the Vancouver area can buy the plans to build their own Biggest Little Garden for $25 Canadian (about $20 U.S.). All proceeds go to the program. For details, call Cairns at (604) 522-3722, Ext. 117, or e-mail

[link: LA Times]
[images courtesy Wikipedia/Fraserside]

Sugar Pie: Honey Bunch

Agave nectar stands on the horizon, cape billowing in the wind, arms poised as though he is about to take flight...he knows he's the next best thing. What Agave Nectar doesn't know is that I'm scared to try new things. I'm not the adoring fan who runs to the local Whole Foods to grab a bottle to throw into my baked goods. NAY! I'm the skeptic, who ponders heavily prior to taking the plunge, and resists the possibility that anything could be better than plain ol' sugar.

I love all-natural things, and I know a lot of sugar isn't even vegan, but I can't seem to get on board the alternative-to-sugar bandwagon. My grandmother was an avid user of Sweet'n Low and her oncologist said that her excessive use most likely aggravated the cancer that took her life. Splenda, sorbitol, maltitol and all of those other poseur sugars...that are, but aren't...have an awful aftertaste and fight to the death with my intestines. And while I love honey, I don't always think it's the best sweetening agent...sometimes it's just TOO sweet and thick and gooey. It overrides the texture of somethings and makes them hard to swallow.

The Chicago Sun Times recently wrote a quick piece about the different types of sugar, and while they don't consider things like alt-sugars and agave nectar, I find the list to be helpful...especially when I'm standing in the grocery store wondering what the heck to buy. There have been discussions amongst friends and peers about what type of sugar is what, and this list helped me flush out the distinctions. I know that quite a few people avoid sugar at all costs, or can't partake in the sweet stuff, but if you can and want to understand the difference between all of these cane derivatives, here's your list:

1. Cubes. One lump or two? Sugar cubes are made from damp granulated sugar pressed into molds and dried.

2. Confectioners'. Granulated sugar that has been ground to a powder, then mixed with cornstarch. The most common powdered sugar is classified 10X, which refers to the size of the mesh used to separate the granules. The finest confectioners' sugar is 12X, with 4X having the largest particles. Other sizes are not readily available. Also called icing sugar.

3. Turbinado. Raw sugar made from sugarcane extract. The light brown granules have a slight molasses flavor. It can be substituted in most recipes that call for brown sugar. Also good in beverages.

4. Super-fine. Very fine crystals that dissolve quickly, leaving no grainy texture. Perfect for caramel, meringues and drinks. Sometimes called bar sugar or caster/castor sugar.

5. Sanding sugar. Colored decorating sugar is slightly larger than granulated and is commonly sprinkled over iced cupcakes and cookies. Colored pearl sugar is even larger. The white granules are tinted with edible food dye.

6. Brown sugar. This moist sugar contains some of the molasses that comes from boiling sugar cane or sugar beets. The moisture causes brown sugar to clump and harden. Light brown sugar has less molasses than dark. Light brown is mostly used in baking and condiments. The more flavorful dark brown is commonly found in gingerbread and baked beans.

7. Granulated. Characterized by snow-white crystals, it's the sugar we use most in the kitchen, especially in baking. Also called table or white sugar.

8. Demerara. Raw sugar similar to turbinado and popular in England. Tan-colored granules can be sticky. Commonly used in hot drinks or cereals.

An even more comprehensive list can be found here. Whether you bake or swirl a spoonful in coffee or tea, these lists are definitely helpful.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

In the neighborhood: Summit of Awesome

I remember my pal Tina telling me a few months ago that something amazing was on the horizon for the Hello Craft team, and that I should just keep my eyes and ears perked for the news! A few weeks ago, Hello Craft introduced The Summit of Awesome, a three day workshop-stuffed, speaker-filled, craftstravaganza located in our Nation's Capitol! How lucky are we!?

The Summit of Awesome will be situated in the U Street Corridor, a haven for indie business and entrepreneurship of all kinds. The event will feature the opportunity for attendees to attend speaking engagements, workshops, tutorials, discussion sessions, the DC premiere of Handmade Nation and SO. MUCH. MORE. I'm really excited about this particular, the opportunity to cultivate community rather than selling my wares suits my unquenchable curiosity and desire to learn. I'm excited to meet and greet the people who keep the gears of this crafty world greased and moving at a rapid pace!

Here's the complete schedule of events you could attend!

Of course you won’t want to miss these talks with -

Learn a new technique or make something awesome with guidance from our amazing speakers.

Learning Sessions:
The main part of the weekend is to learn and grow your crafty endeavors. And what better way then to learn from the people in the know?

Handmade Nation
You’ll also have access to a screening of the D.C. premier of Handmade Nation, Faith Levine’s long awaited film documenting the indie craft community.

Make Something Awesome Craft Area:
All weekend long, stop by the Make Something Awesome Craft Area and well, make something awesome. Have some down time between panels? Feel like decompressing? Socializing? This is the place to do it. Supplies and tutorials will help you on your way to making something awesome. Plus you can record your story for a future episode of the Hello Craft Podcast!

Handmade White Elephant
You might be familiar with this fun and sometimes funny holiday game. Well, be prepared to swap and trade your handmade goods at this fast and fun crafty version of this old favorite.

Add Hello Craft and The Summit of Awesome to your Things to Check Out list and make sure you register for The Summit of Awesome ASAP! Registration prices are currently $150 and will go up to $180 on April 10 (this Friday).

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Recipe Tuesday: A cookbook of memories

I talk about my mom a lot on this blog, and if that makes you crazy, I'm sorry but I'm not. She's just a really spectacular lady and for all of our failures and fights, I could not have been any more blessed. As a queer person, I'm blessed that my mother (well, parents) love me (and Em) unconditionally. As a daughter, I've been blessed to have a mother that told me that getting dirty was just as important as knowing how to cook, and when I bristled at always having to wash the dishes as a tweenager, she didn't hesitate at all before she swapped my chores with my brother's and sent me into the backyard to mow the lawn. And as someone who aspires to be a homemaker, she inspires me to never stop moving and working, as she managed twice the workload of the average homemaker while working a full time plus job for close to 40 years.

As a teenager, I wasn't really interested in learning how to cook, but I remember the distinct moment when it became something I was intensely driven to do. I was an au pair in Switzerland and I was terribly homesick, and I decided that the best way to overcome this was to share the flavors and tastes of my childhood with the kids I was nannying. My mom e-mailed me recipes regularly, and has done so since then. I e-mailed her the other day because a work associate needed a great recipe for frosting, for example. My mom's incredibly organized, so I can count on her to have the recipe saved somewhere on her computer and it's just a quick copy and paste to send it my way.

A few years ago, though, she decided to turn my persistent requests for family recipes into a memory by using her burgeoning scrapbooking skills to make me a family cookbook. What could've been a rather rudimentary project turned into a family treasure that rendered me speechless and sobbing on Christmas morning when I unwrapped it. My mom took an old book, tore out the center, and proceeded to sew in new pages which she decorated with handmade and pre-made stickers and embellishments to match the recipe card she included on the page. The recipe cards were typed, including the family member responsible for the recipe and the date it was created, all finished off with a sweet twist of ribbon at the top. She used a festive, vintage-y pots and pans fabric to cover the book and accented it with cute ribbons and bows for decoration and function. She tried to include at least one recipe for every family member; the recipe was either their own creation...the turkey stuffing in the picture is from my great-grandma Marsh, she included my dad's favorite baked beans...or something that reminds me of a family member, like my cousin's favorite Christmas cookies. Finally, she included a sweet message at the end of the book reminding me of the importance of family, of shared recipes and heritage, and how we are always and eternally connected through these things no matter which direction the wind sends us.

I'm featuring this for Recipe Tuesday to remind you, and me, that some of the best recipes are not the ones you find buried deep in online recipe websites or in the cookbooks of famous chefs and cooks. The tastiest recipes are more often than not right under your nose, in the fibers and veins of your heritage, and something you can easily access with a little bit of creativity and coordination. I've started to collect recipe cards, vintage and brand new, to give to friends and family as gifts so that we can all chronicle the recipes that are deeply special to our interactions with the people we love. Food is what sustains us, and honoring it with a lovely family heirloom like my scrapbook, or including it in a letter to a long distance friend, is a fantastic way to keep our hearts and tummies full.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Oh, yawn: The weekend's over

I hope you all had a lovely weekend! I was busy up in Baltimore helping my best family move and trying not to impose my neurotic, control-freak, organizationally hyper-focused tendencies on anyone...unless it was solicited. It all turned out ok, I think.

Right before we shipped out for Charm City, I made these two necklaces which are now up in the shop! Please visit, enjoy the rest of your Sunday (I'm watching The Tudors!!) and I'll see you tomorrow.

Don't forget to tell your friends about the giveaway!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Vintage Friday: Boxing Loves

A few years ago, my best friend gave me a reproduced I Love Lucy hatbox for my birthday. She said that I was the only person she knew who would be ridiculously excited to receive an empty box as a gift. And it's true, I love boxes. If it's wood, can hold something (anything!) and has a unique shape or color, I will most likely keep it. I've also expanded this love of storage to include crates and drawers which have been modified for display or new, utilitarian purposes like flower beds, bookcases and trinket display cases.

I've put together a collection of wood boxes and crates that are both decorative and have utilitarian potential. There are a wide variety of choices available through Etsy and other sites, and I've also had the great fortune of always finding unique wood boxes at town fairs and antique shows. Keep your eyes open! Storage isn't something you'll find exclusively at the Container Store, ya know!

1. Vintage Recipe Box - $9.95 - 2. Blue Vintage Hinged Box - $24
3. Copper Bear Wood Trinket Box - $42 - 4. 19th Century Lozenges Box - $18

The recipe box would be a great gift with a bunch of your favorite recipes inside! Use the blue vintage hinged box in your entrance-way to stash bills and keys. The copper bear trinket box would be a great gift for a big husky dude, filled with hunky smelling soap or hankies, and the lozenges box would look great in a bathroom filled with q-tips or cotton balls.

Store real crayons in the box and do away with the chaos of a messy playroom or crafty area. This vintage wrench box would be a great place to store tools, or would even make a great place to store your tea! I'd definitely use this Kraft cheese box as a modified planter, and the Coca-Cola crate would be great at a party to hold napkins, utensils and condiments.

As you can see, even the most bland can take on new and exciting uses with a little elbox grease and some imagination. Have a great weekend!

Update: More giveaway items!

I have a few more awesome additions to the giveaway! Make sure you leave a comment on the original post in order to enter to win. Comments left here should only be to describe the ways in which you think these crafty things are fabulous!

The DC music scene continues to be pretty freakin' sweet, and in order to
accommodate what can often be the intense loudness, my buddy Michelle
of Monkey Grl Duds and a fellow Queer Crafter Collective member has
made this fabulous earplug pouch out of recycled and repurposed materials.
Hook it onto your keychain, use the provided earplugs, and cinch the little
bag tight. You'll be a one of a kind rockstar!

Isn't this the sweetest little Love Bug that you ever did see?!
My friend Pang of Pretty Little Fings, the best plush crafter known
to human kind (!), made this lovely little creature just for you! Equipped
with poseable wings, a sweet smile, a charming disposition and floppy
little antennae, this Love Bug (also available in a pair) will be
hap-hap-happy fluttering into your life!

Head on over to the Giveaway post and leave a comment to win these fabulous treats!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Queering House: Dishtowel

Quick find! Make sure your friends and family know how queer your penchant for baking is by using this to pull a cake out of the oven!

Gardening: All about tomatoes

"Hunger makes you restless. You dream about food - not just any food, but perfect food, the best food, magical meals, famous and awe-inspiring, the one piece of meat, the exact taste of buttery corn, tomatoes so ripe they split and sweeten the air, beans so crisp they snap between the teeth, gravy like mother’s milk singing to your bloodstream." - Dorothy Allison, Bastard Out of Carolina
The house I lived in until I was eight years old had a wonderful backyard with enormous old trees, an old fashioned metal swing set, lush and puffy azalea bushes and a row of tomato plants. My mom, though she grew up in an almost-urban suburb of Washington DC, was the daughter of a man who was born and raised on a farm in Manassas, Virginia. My grandfather's life on the farm infused his approach to cultivating food. He kept an enormous garden on the one acre plot of land my mother grew up on in Alexandria, Virginia, full of just about every vegetable you could imagine. This may have also been a generous gift intended for his mother-in-law, my great-grandmother who immigrated from France, who felt that American produce was absolutely vile. Nevertheless, my mother grew up enjoying fresh off the farm produce, and she made that happen for me through tomatoes.

When summer came around and it was time to enjoy the tomatoes, my mom would send me outside to check on their progress. The smell of tomato plants and leaves is so absolutely wonderful to me...the verdant scrumptiousness is something I crave when Spring turns into Summer. You can find me at farmer's markets smelling the air around me, or grasping huge bundles of tomatoes and bringing them slowly to my nose to inhale their scent. From what I recall, I was fond of picking ripe tomatoes off the vine and eating them as though they were apples, with the juices and seeds dripping down my chin onto my clothes. I detest being messy, but I'm sure I made an exception. When my grandparents moved to the Tidewater region of Virginia, my grandfather set up a small and manageable garden to tend to, and two major features were tomatoes and corn ("knee high by the 4th of juuuu-ly" I can remember him saying). Tomatoes are part of the fabric of my heritage.

The first thing I plant in a garden of my own will be the tomato plant. I recall very little about what seeds to choose, or where to plant them, and what kind of sunlight they need. I just know that I need to plant them. Fortunately. SippitySup has put together a three part series with the man behind Tomatomania, Scott Daigre. Tomatomania is the "world's largest tomato seedling sale" and Daigre is a tomato growing expert (and heck of a good cook, apparently). In this three part series, Daigre examines the in-and-outs of tomato growing, including what tomatoes are best for you and all of the factors one must consider to harvest particularly delicious tomatoes.

Daigre provides a thorough introduction to soil prep, seed choice, and maintenance. He also dispells various myths about hybrid tomatoes, which I greatly appreciate. Some people dismiss hybrid tomatoes as "pretty but tasteless"...and in my experience that's not the case. I only recently meandered into the land of the heirloom tomato, and I was VERY pleasantly surprised. So delicious and so absolutely incredibly beautiful.

My favorite way to eat tomatoes (as an adult) is to slice them into wedges, sprinkle them lightly with a rich, thick balsamic vinegar and shake on a little salt and pepper. Em, my very Italian partner, was not terribly fond of tomatoes uncooked when we first started dating. But through my powers of persuasion, you can find us most summer nights with a bowl of tomatoes right under our chins and the sweet, nose-tingling scent of balsamic in the air.

Tomatomania's SippitySup posts numbers one, two and three.

Tomato garden photo courtesy: freddyfoyle@flickr

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

GIVEAWAY: Fresh, hot and free!

Here it is! I've done my best to collect fantastic things for my loyal (and new) readers, to simultaneously thank you all for reading my little blog for what presently amounts to over 240 posts and over 10,000 hits, and honor some really great crafters and artists I've met along the way. In the grand scheme of blogging, I'm small potatoes. But I've had so much fun and I have so many wonderful hopes and wishes for my little corner of the internet, that I wanted to take a moment and provide you all with a chance to win awesome stuff from some of my favorite friends and crafters.

In order to sign up, I'd like you to leave a comment (one comment per person ONLY, please) on this post with the following information no later than April 10th at 11pm EST:
  • Your name
  • Your e-mail address
  • Your favorite blog ever in the history of the internet
  • You can also sign up for my mailing list on the left hand corner of my blog, but this isn't a requirement. I do plan on sending out special promotional e-mails now and then with discounts to my Etsy shop and other awesome things. Just sayin'...
Here are the goods! Clicking the image will take you directly to the crafter's personal site.

When I told my Mom that I was planning a giveaway she offered to make some
of her very popular cards just for you guys! Here we have an assortment of
six (6) hand-sewn/assembled cards in varying stripe patterns in the shape
of a "wallet" with a velcro/button closure. Totally cute. I love my Mom!

From Shayne/Novelty Kitten comes a fun assortment of nerdy delights.
A cross stitch skull pattern, signature "meh." button, Periodic Table of
Monsters and a hand-Gocco'd "Toast is Tasty" card.

From Tina Seamonster comes a 5-pack of "Zombies hate that you are
Awesome" cards AND a 5-pack of "Zombies hate that you are Awesome"
bookmarks...foryour most awesome books or most awesome friends!

From StellaLola @ Etsy comes this fabulous hand-painted print entitled
"Football Buddies". I was fortunate enough to receive one of StellaLola's
"Conga Line at the Cupcake Cabana" prints for my birthday last year and
she graciously contributed this hilarious and adorable print!

One of my favorite ladies, Holly of MissHawklet, is sharing this
113 yard/4.1oz.skein of her handmade wool yarn in lovely browns,
greens and blues. It is so soft and lovely. Her yarns are amazing!

No matter how much I convinced myself, I couldn't give up my
Miss Piggy's Aerobique notebook, so IvyLaneDesigns has graciously
contributed this prideful notebook, perfect for LGBTQ identified folks or allies
who proudly fight for equal rights for all!

I'm personally throwing in some adorable sewing pins (Hengli Co. Ltd. -
British company, I believe) with colorful ball tips and flower tips (pincushion
not included; Em made it for me!). I'm also sharing two sample bars from
Etsy seller Savor - she's the first soap maker who offers scented soaps
that don't make my skin freak out! Fabulous.

Don't forget the Spectrum necklace (in one of five colors; your choice!) that
I mentioned in yesterday's post as well as the pod-tier earrings!

The combined value of all of these amazing treats is somewhere around $150. This doesn't include the other fantastic things I will add to the post later this week! Gotta keep you on your toes. So please please tell your friends about the giveaway, sign yourself up and wait for April 10th when the polls close! The winner will be announced Saturday April 11th!
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