OK, that's enough posts for today. I'm off to do some reading in The Spiral Staircase by Karen Armstrong.
I whipped up these milled batches the other evening, and I'm tickled with how they turned out. They're made by recycling leftover bits of my soap, from when I trim it to make it smooth. There are three bars like this, lightly scented with vanilla. Mmmm!
I received the most beautiful and thoughtful and handmade gifts for my birthday. A donation to Doctors Without Borders and this birch bark ring from Elizabeth Scott's Etsy shop, socks and mittens made by the hands of my knitty friends (the mittens are from Ingrid - she's working on the other one), and the coolest scarf known to man. Oh yeah, it's a pencil. A pencil scarf. And those are Phillip's grubby handprints on the mirror. I'm one lucky duck!
Earth Hour was lovely here at home with a few good friends and some candles. And some very rich cake from Thibault's Bakery. Doesn't this photo look medieval? I love how it turned out.
I've been slowly reading bits and pieces of A Handmade Life. And you know, I think that's the way it's meant to be read. Very enjoyable and inspiring, if a tad bit on the scattered-and-kind-of-erratically-written side (and I would never write like that, now would I?) I like the book so much, and Mr Coperthwaite seems like such a lovely person, that I sent him a couple of bars of soap in the mail today with a note. I hope he enjoys them.
from A Handmade Life by Wm. S. Coperthwaite
Makes one loaf
Time: one hour, 15 minutes total
1/2 ounce yeast (4 1/2 tsp bread machine yeast)
1 tsp honey
13 ounces water at body temperature
1 pound whole wheat flour
Mix yeast and honey in 1/2 cup of the warm water, then let sit to froth for ten minutes. Pour the yeasty mix into the flour and add the remaining water. Mix by hand for several minutes, working from the sides of the bowl to the middle, until the dough feels elastic and leaves the sides of the bowl clean. Put the dough in a tin, covered with a damp cloth, and place in a warm place for twenty minutes or so, allowing the dough to rise by about a third or until it is an inch from the top of the tin. Bake the bread in the tin at 450 for 35-40 minutes.
My notes: I used a mix of flours I had on hand, mostly whole wheat, and I baked the bread blob on a cookie sheet. It took much less time at 450 - maybe 20 minutes, perhaps even less. I also dusted it with a bit of flour before baking. Absolutely simple and delicious.
I've mentioned Goods 4 Girls on my blog before; it's time for an update. I was reading Crunchy Chicken's blog today, and she was pleading for more help spreading the word about Goods 4 Girls. There's a huge demand and more reusable pads are needed for girls in Africa, so they're able to attend school while menstruating. I realized that despite my best intentions, I hadn't yet made a donation. So I did today, by purchasing a pile of pads through a WAHM who supports the program though free shipping. There's a list on the Goods 4 Girls site of many different ways to donate; most places have free shipping and discounted prices for Goods 4 Girls donations. You can also get involved if you're a sewer, or you can make a monetary donation by cheque, PayPal, credit card. This is a really great cause, and a perfect solution - reusable pads make so much more sense than handing out disposable ones in so many ways. There's no need to worry about when more will arrive, no disposal concerns, and it's better environmentally. So if you forgot to get me a birthday gift (;)), please help support this very worthy cause!
I had never cut open a squash to find several sprouted seeds inside, until today. It's currently roasting in the oven, mmmm.
And this is what Phillip and I had for lunch - it's organic quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah), which is quite similar to couscous. I mixed mine with chopped tomato, olive oil, lemon juice, parsley and a bit of salt and pepper to make a sort of tabouli. Phillip had his plain, along with some sweet potato. It's a good source of protein, and has a nice, plain flavour. Delicious!
An Envirosax reusable shopping bag was another sweet gift, which I really like because it folds up to an itty-bitty thing in my bag, unlike the other canvas ones I have (which I also enjoy, and are sturdier for heavier things.)
I'm looking forward to a pleasant weekend at home with a birthday thrown in! Yup, I'll be the big 2-7 on Sunday, and I haven't thought of anything to do to celebrate. (Phillip has an ear infection, so he's been occupying most of my thoughts.) It is Earth Hour on Saturday night, so we'll be sitting in the dark from 8-9, hopefully with some friends. I think I'll start working on a list of 27 things to do while I'm 27. I remember having similar intentions when I turned 26, but don't think I actually got around to making a list. Maybe the first thing on my list will be to not worry if I don't have the list done. Anyway, the weather's warming up and maybe we'll enjoy an outdoor adventure together!
I added a few things to my Etsy shop tonight, including the terrific men's shaving kit pictured above. I'm tickled pink with how it turned out. The mug is thrifted (of course) and the brush is sweatshop-free made with all-natural fibres and a natural wood handle. I also added my Star Anise Bath Bars (which weigh in at a whopping 7.2 ounces each) and some fresh cold process Simple Simon unscented bars, perfect for babies and others with sensitive skin or noses. Happy lathering!
I found this Baby Trekker carrier at Value Village in Saint John for $5.99. It's in perfect condition, and I just couldn't leave it there! Phillip likes it, and it's nice that he can see everything and just kind of hang out on my back. MIL took the photo while we were there.
I have some more soaps I'll be listing on Etsy this week, including my new shaving kits, complete with two soaps, a mug and natural-fibre brush. It looks pretty sharp!
Nougatine et Chocolat is a fabulous little French cafe in Saint John, where I was lucky enough to have lunch a couple of weeks ago. The photos were taken on my phone, which accounts for the terrible quality. The salad I chose had melted goat's cheese and walnuts, and a delicious balsamic vinaigrette in the tiny little pitcher. I also had a ham and brie croissant, which was possibly the richest thing I've ever eaten. The raspberry tart was nothing short of divine. I highly recommend eating there next time you're in Saint John!
We love hummus, especially with these cute little pitas from the Fancy Lebanese Bakery in Halifax (they don't seem to have a website). I made a batch this afternoon, and it's delicious. Here's the recipe, from 1000 Vegetarian Recipes.
1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas (or canned, drained)
3 tbsp tahini (sesame seed paste)
3 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp vegetable oil (I used olive)
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/8 tsp salt
Mix together in blender or food processor (I used my stick blender - not the one I make soap with!) Enjoy with pita bread, as a sandwich spread, on crackers or Melba toast... mmmm!
I had been keeping my eyes peeled for some kind of bread receptacle (not one of those ubiquitous rubberwood boxes) at Frenchy's, and last night I realized that I already had the perfect thing, which came from a lovely lady on Freecycle (I also picked up a waffle iron from her, which I love!). It's this great enamel pot, made in Yugoslavia. Perfect size, perfect everything.
Lastly (but definitely not leastly), would you like to know what big companies own the organic brands you buy? In this month's issue of Good magazine, there's a great chart which provides that information. You can see it here. The only trouble with it, as Adam pointed out, is that it only goes so far - for example, it tells the reader that Kraft owns Boca, but not that Philip Morris (definitely NOT who we named our Phillip after!) owns Kraft. Still helpful when making purchasing decisions, though!
Things are happily swimming along in our little household. Phillip went to sleep early and Adam's at work, so I'm relaxing for a change. I just listed some Tomato Complexion Soap with Cocoa Butter in my Etsy shop. if that counts as relaxing. I have a couple of magazines and a giant glass of water waiting, which sounds even more relaxing. There's a freezing rain warning on for tonight, so my fingers are crossed for one last storm day!
I made a lovely carrot soap yesterday, which I'm quite tickled with. The photo is a little tricky to figure out - I'm looking up at the soap in the mold. It's now mellowing to a beautiful yellow, with no colour other than that provided by the carrot juice.
When Adam and I were taking photos of my soon-to-be-listed soaps, I made this face, which I apparently make quite often. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree, I guess. I'll be listing the soaps from our photo shoot in my Etsy shop over the next few days.
This recipe was in Saturday's Globe and Mail. Adam made it twice already; he followed the instructions and added 1 tbsp salt to the first loaf, and it was much too salty. With an adjustment to 1 tsp, it is absolutely delicious! The dill makes it heavenly, and it makes a great grilled cheese and sandwich bread. The original recipe is available here.
An easy-to-make rustic bread with a slightly moist texture and excellent flavour. It is great toasted or used for cheese sandwiches. It's also terrific with soups and stews. Using a dark beer gives it too much of beery taste, but wheat beer or lager are excellent. Because there is yeast in beer, it helps to make a structured loaf that you can use for sandwiches although it is really a quick bread.
What you need
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablesspoon baking powder
1/4 cup chopped dill
1 cup grated old Cheddar cheese
341 millilitres (12 ounces) wheat beer or lager.
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
What you do:
Preheat oven to 350 F. Generously butter a loaf pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.
Combine all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, sugar, salt and baking powder. Add the dill and cheese and stir to coat with flour. Stir in beer and mustard until mixture forms a dough. You may need to knead dough with your hands to bring it together.
Turn the dough into a buttered loaf pan and use a damp hand to smooth the top. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until light golden and firm to touch. Makes 1 loaf.
While I was in Saint John last week, I visited the stores I wish we had in Yarmouth . Michaels and Value Village are by far the most exciting. I found these sola balls (new in package) at VV, and I scored some deals at Michaels on a few rolls of Martha Stewart Crafts wrapping paper (regular 9.99 for 1.50) and Amy Butler card kits (regular 7.99 for 3.50).
What is sola, you ask? It's a wood product derived from the tapioca plant. You can read more about it here. They're light as feathers and I love how they look (quite much like mushroom stems, as MIL pointed out.)
I have many other pictures and things to share, including some fantabulous video clips of Phillip, which I will post in the next day or so. It's nice to be home (the floors look even better in person!) and I am very much enjoying the longer evenings thanks to daylight savings time. I was outside this evening after P went to sleep and wrestled a couple of plastic bags out of the rose thorns, filled the bird feeder, and puttered around, enjoying the fact that it was still light out. Happy weekend, and I hope you enjoyed a springy evening, too.
A quick post to let you all know about a baby food recall issued yesterday - you can see more details here, but it's President's Choice Organics Pear Juice and Beech Nut Pear Juice which contain arsenic (!). I'm shaking my head and seriously considering living in the middle of nowhere on nuts and twigs.
We're having a nice break from the regular routine, but P has been sick for the first time. He's had a fever, and has been extremely cuddly. We'll be home in a few days, which will be nice - we can enjoy our newly painted floors, and see Adam again!
And what to my won'dring eyes should show up, but a tiny bouquet of ten tiny snowdrops!
In real life, in our yard! Today! Spring is on the way, my friends!
I forced some quince branches, and had a chance to take some photos today, since it was a snow day (yipee!) I love that they're so pale when forced, and so vibrant when they bloom on the tree.
Because it was a snow day, I got to spend the whole morning making soap! I made this Star Anise batch, which smells wonderful, especially if you like licorice. I also made a rebatched batch of Apricot, and a batch of Iced Cappuccino, which is looking good. I wasn't happy with any of my photos of that batch, so I'll post some later on.
I've been coming across all sorts of wild and wonderful things to share over the past couple of days. First up: for my upcoming birthday, Adam bought me this stunning ring from esdesign's Etsy shop. (Also where the photo is from.) (I know, I know, these things should be kept secret - but he needed to know the size and if I liked this one or another one more.) Birch bark pattern, I'm Birch Bark Soap... brilliant.
Next up is this Kitchen Counter Compost Chute - brilliant! Although I agree that some kind of cover would be an improvement. Think of all of the dropped bits of peelings you would keep off of the floor next to the compost bin.
And take a look at this terrific resource for eating seasonally. If you've ever seen the More-with-Less cookbooks, this is from the same folks. Simply in Season is definitely worth checking out - there are recipes as well as an index of foods and plenty of information on each of them in the fruit and vegetable guide.
There's a freezing rain warning on for tonight, so I'm hoping for a snow (or ice, I guess) day tomorrow. If that dream comes true, I plan on rebatching some soaps and maybe making a new batch or two as well, using a crazy-daisy new soaping technique I just learned about through PixieLee's Soap Forum. When I'm not snuggled up with P, of course. It's called the heat transfer method, and you use the heat generated by the lye mixture to melt your solid oils. I'm eager to try it, as it could potentially save a significant amount of time.