Monday, March 30, 2015

March muni people

I'm still going strong with the weekly muni people project I set for myself at the beginning of the year. They are starting to look like a pretty awesome collection all laid out together. I'm excited to see them continue. You can follow along in real time, they are at #munioftheweek on Instagram.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

pies and recipes

I believe last week I said something about sharing recipes for some of the pies I made for the pie day party. It's difficult for me to write about recipes because I rarely use them and if I do I tend to only vaguely follow them. But I did actually use several so here's what worked for me. 
First, the most popular, the key lime pie. I used this recipe from Smitten Kitchen. I didn't change anything (other than using my own gf crumb crust) because it was perfect and boy did it turn out great.
The apple pie was just my standard go to, the filling is pretty much apples plus lemon juice plus a bit of brown sugar and cinnamon. The berry pie was similar except, you know, berries in place of apples. For both fruit pies I used an olive oil crust recipe my mother. 

2 cups flour
1/2 cup oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup water
I use ice water for more traditional pie crusts, and then I stored the crust in the freezer for two days before the party. This appeared to help it to hold together better, since I often struggle with gluten free crusts being difficult and crumbly. 

The lemon blackberry pie was another big winner (people really responded to the tart citrus pies-good to know) and while it used the same oil crust as the apple and berry pies, I did work from a recipe for the filling. This is what I ended up with (adapted from better homes and gardens) I ended up using less sugar and more lemon peel because I wanted the filling to be super lemon-y.

2 eggs
2 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup shredded lemon peel
3/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup melted butter
1 cup blackberries  
I combine the eggs and egg whites with the lemon juice with an electric mixer (I just have a small hand mixer but it works quite well) and then added the butter and lemon peel before pouring it over the blackberries in a prebaked pie crust. I believe I baked it for about 20 minutes at 350 as I was working with very small pies, but I imagine with a full sized pie 30 would be better. I just took them out when the lemon filling was no longer liquid.

I can't seem to find my notes from the coconut chocolate creme pie but I will keep trying to locate those because it was fantastic. Until then, lets talk about Banoffee pie. Banoffee seems to be a British thing? It's bananas and toffee and frankly I made it mostly cause I wanted to say Banoffee over and over again. However it was also excellent and super easy. 
First, take one can of sweet condensed milk with the label peeled off and place it in boiling water for 2.5 hours. When you take it out, it will be caramel. This is like magic! After that it was as simple as slicing a bunch of banana into a crumb crust and pouring the caramel/toffee over the top. I suggest setting it a bit in the fridge before serving though as it is a bit gooey. In a good way.

Monday, March 23, 2015

let there be light

Do you ever get a hankering to make something specific and you just have to make it right now? This happens to me frequently. I think it's partly to see if my idea will work, partly so I can try it before I forget the idea, partly just plain old impatience.
So I kept seeing this candle holder everywhere in house tours and on pinterest. And it is beautiful but also many many dollars out of my budget. But I had a lightbulb idea where I remembered something I had seen in the hardware store and thought maybe I could make one of my own. Obviously not as nice but worth a shot. So off to the hardware store I went and then it went a little bit like this:

The finished product is very cute, and I think it will be a fun little addition to my table setting next time I have people over. I did learn a lot though and think I could make it way better next time. And of course, since I think the bigger eight candle cube is even better, I figure I will be making another version soon. 

I feel I should note that yes, this is a blatant copy of something beautiful and fancy and wonderful. I would never sell something that's such an obvious, for lack of a better word, rip off, but for my own home, when my budget doesn't grant me access to the original, I think it's fun to make my own if possible. I think someone said something once about imitation being the sincerest form of flattery, so I always hope that projects such as this can be seen as just that. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

oversized card

I've been making some extra large cards recently. There's just something super fun about unexpectedly over or undersized things and especially when it's for someone who I cannot celebrate in person, I thought it would be fun to send a card that really feels like a big festive party!
This one was made with a recycled old lino embossed print for the outside (I like the all white texture) and I had to come up with a bit of a closure because it's so thick inside it liked to pop open and I didn't want to ruin the surprise within. I used mini paper fasteners and ribbon.
The inside is just layers of crepe paper fringe and a little hand lettered quote. Pretty simple to make and actually very quick for how fun I think it looks, but has a lot of impact. I of course have had to make custom giant envelopes for each card. I can't get enough of this and might just have to make it a thing I do for a while. I'm thinking how fun it would be to leave one on a desk or doorstep, maybe attached to a balloon? So many ideas!

Monday, March 16, 2015

pi(e) day party

I took a little break form work this weekend to have a party for pi(e) day. In case you don't know pi or pie day is a holiday celebrated on March 14th (3.14 get it?) and this year it was called epic pi day by some as it was 3.1415, and I rarely need an excuse to bake so I made some pies and some pizza pies and had a party. It was a great opportunity to try out some new recipes (several from Smitten kitchen all of which turned out great, and a olive oil pie crust from the Tassahara bread book that was excellent as well) and clean and decorate my house, and then in the end I got to have leftovers to eat for the next few days.
I made apple pie, blueberry raspberry, key lime, banoffee ( this crazy British concoction with banana and toffee made with sweet condensed milk) coconut chocolate creme pie and a lemon blackberry custard. They were all pretty good though I think that the key lime was probably the overall winner as far as what went fastest.
I did some urban foraging the night before (otherwise known as wandering around my neighborhood snipping flower and greenery) which I tucked into an oversize paper wreath I had lying around, and made into several arrangements around the apartment. There was also a sangria station set up at the bar and a big pie day sign but I was more intent on eating pie than taking photographs unfortunately so I don't have much documentation of the night. I will try to come back with the modified recipes I used later this week, all of them were augmented to be gluten free, and most of them were dairy free as well. 

Oh and I updated my kitchen chalkboard to commemorate the occasion as well!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

march favors

When I was putting together the birthday party table I wanted to try to incorporate the party favor a bit more into the scene, and I wanted to use plants because of course. So I made these little jam jar place cards, which can then be taken home at the end of the day as a favor. The consist of a small diamond pattern jar, lined with pink fringe crepe paper, an air plant (no soil needed!) and a little name card. 

They came together quickly and added a nice bit of life to the table. As a reminder here's how they looked on the table. I think these took five mintues to assemble, by far more time was spent selecting the cutest mini air plants then putting them together

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

very bright birthday party

March is the birthday month of one of my favorite people in the world. So in honor of that I threw together a little birthday party setup. Pretty much all of the parts here are paper or fabric that I already had on hand, and to branch out I let myself go a bit more wild with color. After all, it's a birthday so why not go extra bright and playful.
The table was set using a mix of dishes, white dinner plates, salad plates which I had previously hand painted with patterns and colored latte bowls. The tall glasses are vintage and the silverware (or "goldware" as it were) is from Target.

I tried this month to make the decorations multi functional so the place cards also serve as party favors and the the party hats ( made with this tutorial on Oh Happy Day) are also pretty decoration through the middle of the table. The background piece was just a wooden dowel that was hung with different materials. A few yards of navy pom pom trim, fringed crepe paper and ribbons. The great thing about this was how quick it was, took maybe a twenty minutes to assemble, and after it's used everything can be taken apart and recycled for some future use. 

Then for the cake, I stuck together a quick fringe banner with some sticker letters and some extra gold drink stirrers.

The budget for this party had only two items on it as I had everything else lying around. However, the paper and fabric projects would be very easy to source from thrift and dollar stores.

wooden dowel..................2.00
air plant x4......................12.00

All in all this went together really easily. I just stacked and moved around stuff for a bit and came up with a combination that I liked. And again I feel vindicated in my paper and fabric hoarding!

Monday, March 9, 2015

weekend adventure

I joined my friend for another hike this weekend ( she's trying to check out a different trail each weekend with her dog) this time up in Berkeley. We took the wildcat gorge trail in Tilden Park. It was a perfect day, sunny and clear but not too hot. There was a lovely mix of terrain, a bunch of rocky scrambling around the man made lake, really beautiful stretches walking through the woods, even some redwoods, and then opening up to some grassier hills that slowly wove upward. There was unfortunately fog on the bay so we didn't have the best view out but as long as I get to use my legs and breath some fresh air I'm happy

Friday, March 6, 2015


Last Saturday there were amazing things happening with the sky. I was working at home and saw the beginnings of it and ran up to the roof to see if I could take a few pictures. I heard it was green in the east bay, bright red in some places, photos don't do it justice but I have this thing with clouds and I couldn't help but take a few.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

living room update

My living room has always been an odd and challenging room. It has so many doorways, a giant mirror, moldings, window seat. None of which are bad things, but together they make a space that has lots of restrictions, more things to consider than a plain white box might. So I find that it is the space in my apartment that I change the most. Often just little tweaks, moving pillows, adding plants, rearranging art. Recently I decided to repaint, sort of on a whim. And I painted the gray room............ gray! I know, super anti climactic. But I swear it makes such a difference. I loved the color before, but with all the breaks in the walls, the contrast between the dark gray and the white trim was making everything feel busy, and then adding in all the orange that I had in there (can't remember now why I chose that as my accent color but I digress) it was just not a calm or restful feeling place, or at least not the space that I wanted it to be. So I took it from this:

to this:

As you can see in my badly lit and grainy phone pictures, the difference in shade between the two grays is pretty drastic.

I went with Benjamin Moore Gray Owl without swatches or samples as I have noticed that every time I like a light gray space that turns out to be the color that was used. And now I get why. It is the perfect gray. I didn't want this room to be another white room, as the hallway and my bedroom and studio space are white with white with more white. But I wanted something quieter than the moody original paint color. Gray Owl is somehow both cool and warm depending on the time of day. It is beautiful with sunshine but also lovely when it's dark and cloudy.

I actually loved it so much that I didn't even want to hang anything, move any furniture back, just sit in the window seat and gaze at the walls. It's very restful and I breathed a sigh of relief when it turned out as well as it did, For an impulsive painting decision this was the best possible outcome.
I did eventually move the furniture back in but I've been trying to keep things more simple in this space as it is such a pass through for the apartment. I only hung artwork on the wall by the couch, and the oversize woven piece that I made to cover the mirror and add some texture and interest to the longest uninterrupted wall.

The dining corner I have been keeping pretty spare, I like how quiet it is right now but it is also so easy to add color through art and table coverings as I feel like it. And I've been loving the leaf covered lampshade as it's dried it's become even prettier.

I cleared up the bar cart a bit and added some pretty green decorative paper to the lower shelves. The window seat was a great accident. I had some blankets sitting on it while I was putting the furniture back in place when it occurred to me that I could just wrap a blanket around it for a temporary color fix. The blue and green afghan was made by my grandmother it is much cozier to have a softer surface on the window seat cushion than the cotton upholstery weight fabric that I used to recover it.

I lucked out in that it was very warm outside when I decided to paint, and it was a three day weekend so it was a perfect time to create a bit of temporary chaos in the middle of my apartment, and I am so happy that I did because the space is much closer to what I want now. It's funny to see how my likes and style are changing as I experiment in this space. As it is the first place I've been able to decorate and improve with any level of freedom I've made a bunch of missteps and learned from some mistakes, there was a certain level of barreling in with all the enthusiasm in the world, but I've enjoyed the process of learning what I like so much. And besides, it's only paint, it's easy to fix.

A last note, this angle made me realize just how much plant craziness there is going on in the living room (and there's a bunch more to the left of the frame) but you just can't beat greenery for making a room feel like home. Also there are several smaller ones that just came from one bigger umbrella tree so I really don't think they should count towards my plant-hoarding total!