Friday, October 30, 2009

Happy Halloween!

Wishing you all a happy and safe Halloween! I hope the tricks are hilarious and the treats plentiful. I'm taking the weekend off to get some serious crafting done, but I'll be back on Monday with a fantastic bunch of new sponsors to tell you about, a craft project for a good cause, and maybe a new recipe or two. 'Til then!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Hot, fresh and ready to read!

Cookbook publishers are smooth movers, I say. Just as the holiday season busts out into full swing, we have a bevy of hot and fresh published books and guides to help us navigate holiday cooking, resolutions for the new year, or just fun and inspirational kitchen adventures. I've included a few exciting releases in this post (counter-clockwise from top left).
  • Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar, the overdue and exciting companion to Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, promises to fill the bellies of a number of lactose-intolerant and vegetarian/vegan lovers of sweets. The cookie on the cover sucks you in - I can't imagine what miracles are contained within this cookbook's pages - Magical Coconut Cookie Bars, Peanut Butter Crisscrosses, NYC Black & Whites - OH MY! $17.95
  • If you're me (and you should be, 'cause it's great) you can't hear the name "Lidia Bastianich" without thinking of the silly and sexy Fabio Viviani from Bravo's Top Chef. What I fail to acknowledge, sometimes, is the enduring voice and legacy of Lidia, who has brought Italian cooking and culinary history to the masses for many years. Her latest cookbook, Lidia Cooks From the Heart of Italy, is a literal and literary tour of Italian regional cuisine, "starting at the north, working down to the tip, and ending in Sardinia". $35
  • Peter Reinhart's Artisan Breads Every Day should probably be on the top of my list. I've been spoiled since the spring with a local bakery's artisan breads and have decided that I need to figure it out for myself. This book promises to be an invaluable resource from one of baking's most well-respected chefs. $30
  • The sequel to Cooking, James Peterson's Baking has been touted as the next best reference book for bakers, from novice to sourdough-slinging genius to jellyroll warrior. Clearly organized and written in Peterson's winning style, this cookbook would be a great gift to someone who is still trying to figure out what to do with all the baking and pastry accessories that perplex them. I'm a firm believer that the basics of every style should be learned before the fluff, and this looks like an excellent way to do that without shipping yourself off to pastry school. $40
  • Yukon Cornelius...ahem, excuse me...Kevin Gillespie from Top Chef: Las Vegas has a sectioned pig tattooed on his arm as both an homage to his Southern background and his fervent commitment to delectable pork. The cover of Ad Hoc at Home naturally reminds me of this, but it's so much more than a dedication to America's "other white meat". Owner of The French Laundry, a James Beard award winner, and someone committed to clean, delicious cuisine, Thomas Keller's latest at home companion would be a great gift for the person in your life who likes hip spins on traditional comfort food. $50
  • Serious Eats has been "Cooking the Book" The Craft of Baking for a few weeks, and I have to admit that I'm thoroughly intrigued by the recipes. Written by Tom Collichio-discovery and James Beard award winner Karen DeMasco, this book is designed to take the seasoned baker to new and imaginative heights. Especially exciting: this book seems to be a whirlwind of delights from cookies to candies to ice cream. Something for everyone! $35
  • While I'm dubious about trusting two skinny dudes from the South to tell me what's what about true Southern cuisine, I AM excited about the fresh and light complements to the standard heaviness of the fried, butter-soaked dishes that my dear sweet Paula Deen has been ladling into our arteries the past few years. The Lee Bros. Simple Fresh Southern is an evolution of something these boys have been doing for quite a while (their site). I imagine this book will be a less preachy complement to the whole food/slow food fad of late. $35
  • Finally - the pièce de résistance - what I like to consider a culinary Rick Roll! Cocktails Cocktails Cocktails! Check out Sandra Lee's Semi-Homemade Cocktail Time, sure to be a great way to incorporate a drinking game into watching any of her shows...or perhaps this. Ooooooo, GOT YA! $17.95
Get out there and get cookin'!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Maisie Maud Broadhead

Though I appreciate fine art in ways I can barely articulate, sometimes it doesn't always speak to me. I'm sure it's a combination of lack of education and the attention span of a gnat. And like dancing and music, I'm drawn to things I would never expect - like contemporary and that weird hipster acoustic lady singing that's so popular these days. I digress!

Maisie Maud Broadhead (god, I want to hug the person who named her) is an artist based in England (and a recent graduate of the RCA) with what I interpret to be a VERY strong affinity for all things domestic. My dearest of the dear friend Megan shared her collection entitled jewellery depicted with me this evening, but I must say that every work and collection she's created during her tenure as an artist is jaw-droppingly phenomenal. Her photographic reinterpretations of art, specifically the Vermeer piece and the "nipple pinch" restaging of Gabrielle d'Estrées in her jewellery depicted collection, are stunning. The brooch I've included above is incredibly profound - so often we enlarge the stone to show status or refinement, but in this case the setting is excessively elongated (perhaps it's phallic? Perhaps a representation of how jewelry is used as a patriarchal tagging device? I don't know!) My absolute favorites, though? domestic jewellery and gestures, which is a collection of cast silver pieces inspired by the hand formations found in the book Speak Italian : the fine art of the gesture by Bruno Munari.

All of her collections are worth a gander and I look forward to see how her work evolves to include more innovative representations of fine art and the simple, practical accessories of daily life.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Pumpkin Whoopsie Pies

This morning, I cleaned the kitchen from stem to stern in preparation of a day of, um, kitchening. I had a few things on my list that needed to be baked, cooked, and just plain ol' made. Last week I made homemade "Chex Mix" using store brand cereals (our local store's version of Crispix is called Crispy Hexagons, which is an epic NERD WIN!), and I managed to convert fervent Chex Mix hater Angela to the homemade, store brand version I concocted. I wanted to make some more because the Disnazzios and the OMGs managed to kill that batch in less than a day. I also wanted to make goulash, which was cooked up yesterday, using Bobby Deen's too-salty recipe (don't season the beef and leave out the extra tablespoon of seasoning salt if you know what's good for you). And finally, I wanted to make Em some pumpkin whoopie pies not only because I am an awesome lady, but because I had been promising for weeks. Em got all whipped up in a tizzy about the fantasticness of pumpkin whoopie pies after having one made by some darling Mennonites from the farmer's markets. Thanks dudes. Thanks a lot.

I found the recipe on Required Eating, which is from the book Baked (on my Christmas list!), and began to put together the fairly simple recipe. I cut back a little on the cloves and ginger, because a tablespoon of each seemed excessive. Too much of all that, and my house would smell like a Catholic mass during Lent and then I'd start having flashbacks. Moving on, the recipe was pretty easy and pulled together nicely. I decided to absolve myself of the sin of having slightly clumpy bits of brown sugar in the mix; I felt like they'd just melt in little pockets of the pies and taste delicious.

Now, here's where things went downhill. My mother taught me to bake at a fairly young age, and very VERY rarely did she use parchment paper for cookies. I think the only time I remember her using parchment paper was when she lined loaf pans for my great-grandma Marsh's fruitcake. I never use it, but I have it in the drawer because Em needs it for peppermint bark every year. I decided to follow the directions and use parchment paper. As I scooped the pumpkin batter onto the paper, I was dubious about it still, but trudged on. The oven was ready, the first tray of batter was set, so I opened the oven door. Then, without thinking and as I always do, I leaned down, grabbed the cookie sheet and proceeded to put it into the oven.

Or so I thought.

Because I'm so unskilled when it comes to the fine art of parchment paper use, I never took into consideration that the cookie sheet would need to be kept level. In a flash, the paper slid right off the cookie sheet and then promptly flipped on itself, depositing 12 pumpkin piles onto my oven's door, into the crevice between oven and door, and down into the drawer below. The oven was hot, so naturally these piles started immediately cooking. I cursed the parchment paper in the holy name of Ina Garten (even though this wasn't her recipe) - EFF YOUR GOOD VANILLA, EFF YOUR HOITY TOITY PARCHMENT PAPER, EFF JEFFREY - I am so not fancy. I proceeded to use two large spatulas to lift off whatever pumpkin batter I could, used wet paper towels to clean up every inch of the oven that was touched by the mess, and then piled it all onto the cookie sheets originally covered with the oh-so-special parchment paper. Folks, it seriously looked like a gang of infants marched into my kitchen and took a dump in my oven.

Ever the baking warrior, I decided to continue with my project despite my strong urge to heave the batter out the window and into the fake pond outside. I ritualistically tore the parchment paper into little bits and sprayed the cookie sheets with Pam. I dumped what batter I had left into neat little piles and baked off 18 little piles in my now impeccably clean oven. After they cooled, I whipped up the cream cheese filling (adding a few teaspoons of milk to smooth it out, by the way). Using a tablespoon, I put a dollop of filling on each bottom and gently pushed on the matching top.

I used WAX paper (which is old fashioned, fabulous and something my mom actually used regularly) to wrap the extra pies up for later. The whoopsie pie, which is what these will be called in perpetuity, that I saved for myself was absolutely scrumptious. The pumpkin part was perfectly spiced, light, cakey and tasted like fall. The filling was creamy, rich and a perfect complement to the spicy pie. I will make these again. Without parchment paper. Amen.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Super sale @ This Chickadee!

Need to protect your great grandma's handmade coffee table? Forget to slide a coaster underneath your overnight glass of water on the nightstand? Looking for a handy and handmade host/hostess gift? This Chickadee has what you need!

Head on over to the little shop o' Chickadee for a SUPER SALE on her handmade, cute-as-a-button coasters - 4/packs for $12 each! What a steal! As a special incentive to Chickadee shoppers, I'm offering a super secret discount code for a one time only Oh Ginger purchase! If you buy stuff from Chickadee, you can get 20% off an Oh Ginger shopping spree. Just purchase a set (or two!) of coasters and leave a comment here on this post (with your e-mail address if it's not obvious) and I'll mail you your special discount code post haste!

The Oh Ginger household has numerous Chickadee products and I must say - she stitches more love into these things than you could even possibly imagine!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

We're in!

We're in! My buddy Pang of Pretty Little Fings and I are pleased to announce that we will be vendors once again at the fabulous Handmade Mart on Saturday December 5th from 10am-3pm in Silver Spring. This market, dubbed the Holiday Shop-n-Stroll, will be particularly great because it will include a farmer's market. So put on your fuzzy hat and mittens and head on out to do some fine holiday shopping!

Just a sampling of what you'll find on my side of the booth!

Give me the eraser.

I just fought with a work-friend over a beautiful, brand new eraser and I was reminded of my fierce, and sometimes unhealthy and expensive, love affair with office supplies. Fortunately, I've never been charged with ordering office supplies, but as Disnazzio can attest, it is quite a wonderful and reckless honor. Some of the country's best labor lawyers are writing in style thanks to her superb taste.

Since I lost the "gimme the eraser" battle, I will have to transfer my office accessory lust to other venues. Lately, I've grown increasingly fond of the number of shops popping up that manage to meld vintage finds with recently created, designer complements. As far as home decor is concerned, Three Potato Four is top notch. Their shop is so inspiring. More recently however, and in line with my office supply lust, I discovered Present & Correct. Based out of the UK, this graphic design firm turned print shop turned vintage shop turned shop for fantastic work from designers worldwide is the beesknees. With endless pages of fantastic treasures to flip through, you can turn your cubicle, home office or even just your cozy desk in the corner into a fantastic homage to style and substance.

Present & Correct has everything you might need - globes, vintage Bob's Big Boy burger wrappers, handy craft books, fabulous notebooks, writing utensils and even a large assortment of kid-friendly finds. I'm particularly smitten with their exclusive designs - greeting cards are indeed my weakness. I imagine I will be filling up a shopping cart with a number of their originals very, very soon.

Present & Correct also has an Etsy shop!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

I still only have one trophy.*

Last weekend, Em and I took part in a three-person cake battle. The event was proposed many weeks ago at dinner with some family friends, Kate and Mark. While describing a hypothetical birthday situation, Kate mentioned that she'd just "throw a quick Betty Crocker cake together" and Em promptly interrupted her by saying, "well, I hear as far as boxed cake mixes go, Duncan Hines is the best" and then winked in my general direction. See, when I was a kid my mom taught me a few rules:
1. From scratch is best
2. If you can't make from scratch cake, at least make the icing
3. If you're going to make boxed cake mix, use Duncan Hines ALWAYS
4. If you need to go box/can for both, use Duncan Hines cake and Betty Crocker icing
I don't know what compelled her to figure this out, but this tradition has endured in my family for over 30 years. Maybe it was the cake decorating class she took at Sears when I was a kid...can't be sure. Nevertheless, the gauntlet was thrown at dinner that night and it was decided that three cakes would be made, consumed and judged by "impartial" critics. I was charged with making a from scratch cake and icing combo, Kate made Betty Crocker cake/icing and Em made Duncan Hines. All cakes would be chocolate and all icing would be "white" or vanilla.

As far as the judges were concerned, they were far from impartial - Kate's husband Mark, their niece Rebecca and Em's mom. I thought that I had at least half a vote in the bag because Em's mom and I have bonded over cooking and baking, I've baked for her before, and because she gives me Ina Garten's newest cookbook (inscribed with an inspirational note, even) for Christmas every year. Good, tasty food is our jam!

As people sliced into the cakes, examined their moistness, flavor, quality of chocolate, smoothness of icing - I genuinely had not a care in the world. I was that cocky asshole on food competition shows, so breezily confident in what I had made that I just leaned back in my patio chair and sipped my wine with an easy smirk on my face. My mom's icing is no fail and I even made Ina Garten's Beatty's Chocolate Cake, after hearing a casual recommendation from Em's mom. Easy peasy, right?

I lost. As in, out of three contestants, I came in third. I am the nerd with the hairy chest.

While I have no idea how the voting played out (as the ballots were dropped in the fire pit on the patio shortly after the announcement was made), I lost. I was told that my icing was delicious, and that the cake was super chocolatey and moist. I tasted all the cakes too - the Duncan Hines was obviously familiar and its icing was kind of sticky and sweet. The Betty Crocker cake had this strange dryness to it, and the icing was nothing more than thinned out marshmallow fluff. I'm inclined to think that shins were kicked and ultimatums were issued without my knowing, because when the votes were revealed, I was ripped off my pageant winner's cloud of confidence and fell abruptly to the hollows of baking shame.

Later on in the evening, Em's mom saw me looking at my third place ribbon with an incredibly forlorn expression on my face..."Meaghan, I'm worried about you" she said. I still don't think I've quite pulled away from the shock of it all. Want to know the biggest kick in the gut? Em won.**

*When I was a toddler, my mom made me an incredibly adorable pink and blue checkered clown costume. I won first place in the neighborhood costume competition because of that ensemble, and I was given a trophy as a token of my "effort". I still have that trophy. It's the only trophy I've ever won.

** Em doesn't bake! I mean, I'm happy and proud, but COME ON!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

All I want for Christmas...

Last night I sweetly and patiently asked Santa Claus (AKA My Mom) if (s)he was taking Christmas Lists this year, as the economy has been shit and 'tis better to ask than to presume! Santa gave a resounding "Ho ho oh yes!" and now I'm scouring my brain and bookmarks for ideas. What a genuine stroke of luck to have this turn up as a shared item in my Google Reader from my pal Leigh. Made in England is the brain child of a mustachioed chap named Cookie, who also happens to be a freelance illustrator, designer and "occasional adventurer". To say that I love his vintage-inspired characters and style is QUITE the understatement.

Cookie has created what every Santa needs - a worksheet filled out by the gift recipient with vital information such as size, color and style preferences. He offers them up for boys and girls (anatomical illustrations too, no doubt!), though we all know that's certainly interchangeable (ahem). Download the PDFs for free at his site by clicking here. Thanks Cookie for making ridiculously awesome stuff!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Sponsors, Fabulous Sponsors!

Hello Everyone. As you see laid out to your right, I have a small assortment of friends and crafters who have been featured as sponsors on my blog for almost four months now. I believe in handmade and I'm proud to support it, so I thought I'd ask a few folks if they were interested in promoting themselves on my blog for a while. I'm still interested in doing this, but I don't have the time to dedicate to monthly rollovers, money, or even design. I genuinely just want people I love to have the chance for a little bit of wholesome advertising on my big gay blog.

Round of applause to the troopers (*claps*):
As we start the push into the holiday season, I want to open up this opportunity to more folks, specifically crafters and artists. Try as I might, I can't promise a ton of traffic. I am blogging about 3-5 times per week and I publicize my posts on Twitter and Facebook. This sponsorship opportunity will last for TWO MONTHS - from November 1st through New Year's Day!

I can promise you the following:
  • a free advertising space on Queering Domesticity, designed by you (or me, if you're absolutely desperate), that will last from November 1st through New Year's Day!
  • one free post, with more than just a few sentences, highlighting your awesomeness as a sponsor and with whatever you do (by the way: if you sing, I expect you to serenade me so I can talk about it)
  • one beautiful thank you card (hand-written by yours truly) with one dozen holiday cookies mailed to your address before the end of the year (I'm serious)
In return, I'll ask the following of you:
  • one fantabulous ad - please make it 200px wide x 150px high
  • one item from your line-up of products for a giveaway on Queering Domesticity in early December
Please send your e-mail to me before October 30th and provide the following information:
  • Your name & shop name
  • Web address
  • Favorite cookie (I can't make promises, but it's nice to know)
  • The ad you'd like to use
  • A quick description of why you'd be a nice fit at QD and what you'll offer for the giveaway
That's it! Really! I will accept 10 sponsors and notify you on Halloween - it won't be a trick, it'll be a treat. Promise!

[my e-mail is oh.meaghan (a) gmail (dot) com]

Interlude: Everybody needs to know

When I told my friend this morning that I fell in love with a new band after hearing one of their songs on So You Think You Can Dance, he groaned. Right, I get it - not the hippest place to find new music, but what am I supposed to do? I don't work at Borders anymore; I don't get to see all the hot new stuff as they're stacking it on the shelves. I'm behind the curve, man!

Nevertheless, I found an awesome band called Elizabeth & The Catapult. Wouldn't you know that I JUST missed them at the Red & the Black downtown? Figures. They're coming to the Barns at Wolf Trap at the end of the month, but I think I'm getting a little old for live music. Unless I have some young stud flirtin' with me to, I dunno, travel to Baltimore and see the sexiest band alive play (on November 20th - mark your calendars!), I'm not usually moved by live music anymore. What is wrong with me...

After I downloaded Elizabeth & The Catapult's cover of Leonard Cohen's "Everybody Knows", I let iTunes tell me what I might like. The first suggestion was Roseanne Cash's new album The List, which hit stores on Tuesday. I heard about this a while ago, but didn't really pay attention. As it turns out, The List is a compilation of Johnny Cash's favorite old country songs sung by his beloved daughter Roseanne (whose voice is like churned butter, I swear to God) with a few cameos by the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Costello and even Neko Case. HOT DAMN. I downloaded one song ("Heartaches by the Number" with Mr. Costello, of course), so I could ease into the awesomeness without overwhelming myself with the longing that I might experience if I charged through the album too quickly. Johnny Cash is about as close as I can get these days to hanging out with my long gone Pop Pop - his sound and essence are far too similar to the Man in Black.

Here I give you "Everybody Knows" (live) by Elizabeth & The Catapult and I encourage you to pick up both of these superb albums. Enjoy.

Free ticket to heaven!

A little math on a Wednesday morning never hurt anyone:

Would you like to win two free tickets to Sugarloaf Craft Festival at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds on November 20, 21 and 22nd? Well, hightail it over to This Chickadee's homestead on the web and sign yourself up for a free pair of tickets! More info available over there, too, along with some more craft-appropriate imagery.

Listen, I was just trying to get your attention!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Stitch A Day with the Hand Embroidery Network

As someone who finds simple embroidery one of the most therapeutic forms of crafting out there, I was thrilled to find that there is a fantastic online resource slowly developing over at the Hand Embroidery Network. They've started updating their blog daily with a new stitching technique in a project called "Stitch A Day". With simple and clear photographic tutorials, concise and descriptive written instructions, multiple variations and even project ideas, I think that the Stitch A Day project will be an indelible resource for stitchers, novice to expert, for months and years to come! HEN keeps the Stitch A Days organized on the right hand column of their blog, so returning for a particular stitch is easy as pie. I can't wait to see how this project evolves and to start using some of these new stitches in my personal and shop related projects!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Reviving a classic : The Brooch

As the season for smart wool (wool blend - I won't judge) coats, structured jackets and even sturdy sweaters approaches, it's time for us to start thinking about how we're going to accessorize! Wow, that last sentence could not have been any gayer.

I make, and love, necklaces and I encourage you to continue buying them, but I've noticed a trend over the past few years that at first disinterested me, but something that I'm now falling in love with...The Brooch. There is a fantastic assortment of brooches available in just about every imaginable place - you can spend hours in thrift shops and antique markets combing through the dusty old selections, visit craft sites and shop from vintage and handmade selections, or even visit mainstream shops and find a unique assortment of choices. Some folks keep the same brooch pinned to their lapel for an entire season, whereas other folks change it up on a weekly or daily basis. Brooches are also great, speaking as someone with a neck that is far from dainty, because they accessorize the top half of your body without strangling you. Color and interest are close to your face, without having to spend extra money on longer chains or designer edits.

I've collected a lovely assortment of brooches here - they are all generally affordable or easy for you to recreate on your own!

Rosebud Pin Corsage/Brooch by Heart of Light - $18
Yellow is slowly becoming one of my favorite colors - this season and in general. I'm especially smitten with this marigold shade, which is a bold contrast to the soft and delicate rosebuds Heart of Light has created in this stunning brooch.

In the Trees brooch by Little Shop Of - $20
Trees glorious trees! Without going so far as to say I'm a treehugger, I will say that I love trees. This is a fantastic bamboo and acrylic homage to one of my favorite parts of nature, with a sweet little chickadee on the branch.

Orange Contrast Brooch by A Alicia - £25
This handcrafted felt brooch is STUNNING. I absolutely love the clementine orange color paired with a warm heather gray. It's high time this shade of orange get it's due respect, outside of the fall football circuit!

Alpha Lock Brooch by Spissa - $35
For Class A nerds, this brooch is simple and assertive. Afraid to tell your boss you mean business? Attach this subtle hint to your cardigan and show them who's boss! Check out all of Spissa's vintage key brooches here.

I Feel Sassy brooch by Emelia Ro - $40
I imagine the moment Em sees this brooch, she'll get it for me for Christmas (*wishing hoping*). I'm terribly sassy, a trait I'm told was directly passed down from my mother. What a hilarious memo to all the folks you encounter on a daily basis.

French Brocade Recycled Plate Brooch by The Broken Plate - $30
The Broken Plate does a stunning job of pairing vintage plates with simple and stunning components. This new addition to the collection is no different - a detailed vintage celluloid frame features a lovely oval eggplant plate interior. See The Broken Plate's full assortment of brooches here.

Eye Chart Brooch by Tilly Bloom - $15
Catch wandering eyes in action with this hilarious and Victorian-inspired brooch/pin. I highly recommend you take a moment to check out Tilly Bloom, who has an awesome assortment of brooches available here.

Maple Leaf Brooch by dandelion blu - $50
Dandelion Blu's necklaces and brooches are stunning interpretations of awe-inspiring treasures in nature. A few years ago, I picked up one of her oak brooches for my mother, as a reminder of the autumn in Virginia. This maple leaf could be a smaller, delicate complement to a warm fuzzy sweater or simple gray wool coat!

Acorn Felt brooch by Lupin - $13
Felt! One of my favorites! Lupin has just about everything found in nature stitched up neatly with little bits of felt. I'm particularly smitten with acorns these days, and this affordable brooch is no exception!

Acrylic Balloon Dog by Another Empire - $20
Balloon animals are ingrained in the memory of most everyone I know, and this petite pooch made of jet black acrylic is a modern and refined version of the squeaky carnival souvenir. Bring a smile to the face of people at a cocktail party with a youthful spirit and a genuine sense of humor.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Giving not getting.

While my parents visited last week, my mom and I took a few hours to go have a proper visit with my Great Aunt Tootie (a.k.a. Florence). She's a fabulous and spunky lady, 80 years young, who busies herself with numerous volunteering and friend-oriented activities. She's a crafty old bird, too, recently transitioning back to hand-knitting after years upon years of machine knitting. She also sews, as most wives of working class dudes (like her husband, my great Uncle Sy, and his brother, my Pop Pop) did back when, and she also makes delicious blueberry muffins. In most every nook and cranny of her old house, which was built directly next door to an almost-identical model that belonged to my great-grandparents, she has inspirational quips and phrases. On the fridge I noticed a quote that she clipped from a home and garden style magazine over 25 years ago. While I can't remember the quote verbatim, it was the first line that grabbed me most.

It is better to give than to get.

We've all probably read or heard that somewhere, especially as the holiday season kicks into full gear and we're shopping like mad people in order to pacify our families with needless and often thoughtless treasures, that it's better to give than to get. While my cultural naivete is baring its bright white ass right now, I will say that it is also a very humble and simple proverb with Biblical origins. As I processed through, and continue to process through, my feelings about indie craft and where I belong and what I like, I was reminded of this at a particularly important time.

Today, Adam's Morgan was chock full of crafty folks and carnation pink balloons - heralding in the celebration of one of the mid-Atlantic's most well-known and respected indie markets, Crafty Bastards. I did not apply to sell at this show, and some friends who did were not accepted. Alternatively, there were a number of friends who were accepted into the show, and I decided that I needed to honor their accomplishments. At craft shows, there's a lot of pressure to buy, and things are tight right now as we're siphoning most of our free cash into sending Seamus to day camp (look - it was that or locking Em and me up in a loony bin). I think my friends are the beesknees so I decided to do what I do best...bake.

Picture courtesy of Ms. Broken Plate!

I took a cookie recipe that I found randomly on a far away farmer's market website. It sounded promising and easy, and I edited it slightly. After baking them up, I wrapped them in parchment paper and finished the little parcels off with baker's twine. I carried them from booth to booth, saying hi to my favorite crafty people and sharing what I could. My mom taught me how to bake, and though I never saw it (like I never saw Santa!), I grew up believing that love was a necessary and invisible ingredient.

Apple Oatmeal Cookies
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup quick oats
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • 1 t. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 t. ground cloves
  • 2 t. grated lemon zest
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 3/4 cup salted butter, softened
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce (or make your own)
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 cup diced fresh apples
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees.

Combine dry ingredients: flour, oats, salt, soda, cinnamon, cloves and lemon zest and whisk. Cream sugar and butter together, add egg, applesauce, honey and beat until smooth. Add flour mixture and mix well. Add apples, pecans and raisins and blend. Drop in 1.5" balls onto ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake 20 minutes or till golden brown on the bottom. Yields approximately four and a half dozen.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

My Space *stomp stomp*

This scene just woke me up and made me laugh so, so hard. Watch Happy-Go-Lucky - it's a hilariously weird movie featuring Sally Hawkins, of the BBC's mini-series interpretation of Fingersmith (a lesbian-love themed novel by Sarah Waters set in Victorian England).
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