Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Chocolate Cookies, Again

Chocolate cookie success! After the tragedy of the un-chocolatey cookies earlier this month, I made another attempt at choco-cookie glory. I've taken to just opening my Martha Stewart cookie book and making the first thing that a) looks good and doesn't require some kind of crazy press or mold and b) I have the ingredients on hand for. I was tempted to try Grammy's Chocolate Cookies again, but when I opened the book to Giant Chocolate Sugar Cookies and realized that they're pretty much exactly the same (but bigger), I thought it was better to knock another cookie off my list (as part of my daydream to make every cookie in the book, which I know will never actually happen).

Now, the original recipe calls for GIANT cookies -- the whole batch is only supposed to yield eight cookies. That's insane. I ended up with about 14, so I had to kind of monkey with the cooking time, so some of these are chewier than others. And they're delicious. And chocolatey. I can say no more.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

It's On

I knew the thrifting bug was hitting me last week when I made an unscheduled stop inside a Value Village (though I bought nothing because they were charging crazy prices -- like $7 for a scratched up Pyrex that could never fetch more than a few dollars on ebay). The thrifting season seemed to officially start this weekend with garage sales popping up everywhere, despite the snow. I had planned to go to this huge rummage sale that happens here bi-annually, but I was seduced by a fabric sale and never ended up making it.

Aaron's mum, Leena, is part of a group that knits and sews items (mainly bags and purses) and then sells them to raise money for the Stephen Lewis Foundation. On Saturday they held their first fabric sale, which feature piles and piles of vintage fabric. Piles, I'm telling you. I bumped up my stash as much as possible before my brain got overwhelmed and Henry (who was strapped to my chest in his carrier) got too heavy. What you see above is just a portion of my bounty. Needless to say, I was too pooped to make it to the rummage sale.

So, how to hit all the garage and tag sales with two kids this spring... I've got the bug, I just wished I had the energy and the time!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Hung Up

Last weekend we rounded up the family and went to a arts/clothing fair in town, mainly because a woman who makes pants that are very forgiving to the post-preg body was going to be there. Also, Aaron and I have always been interested in art, but we've never had the money to start collecting anything. We're certainly not rich these days either, but we figured we could drop a little bit of cash if we saw something we really liked and if we continue to do so a couple times every year, before long we should have some okay pieces in our house. We spotted a booth full of really cool pop-arty wood carvings and Aaron was really drawn to this one. It's by a local artist named Lisa Brawn and her subject is Tom Mix (also known as the Fancy Cowboy), a silent movie star from the early part of last century.

I love this guy. I wasn't too wild about buying a piece of cowboy art, since more traditional cowboy art really dominates the market here and, of course, I prefer to rage against the machine and all, but this picture is pretty awesome (and I will stress, Lisa isn't a traditional Western cowboy artist -- her recent pieces just happen to feature cowboy movie stars). I like that it's pop-arty but not ironic in any way. She did have some pieces with more famous iconic images, but I like that Tom Mix is so unfamous in my circles that he could just be any random guy. I am pleased.

Bringing Tom into our house has also inspired us to, at last, hang some other art that's been sitting around. I finally put the swatch portraits up in Henry's room (though my desk/computer is still where his crib will go once he's out of the cradle in our room). We also hung up a really intense black velvet desert landscape that we bought at a rummage sale last year. It's over our bed. Pictures really don't do this one justice and I'm still not totally sure of it, so instead I've included some of Ruby's recent art. I too, was concerned when she came out of art class yesterday with an all black painting (is she really that upset about having a baby in the house?), but I soon realized that black was the colour of paint sitting directly in front of her, so that's what she chose. Sometimes kids don't need to be psycho-analyzed, I guess.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Little Gifts, Little Effort

As you may know, I really love giving handmade baby gifts, probably more than any other kind of gift. By my count, I know about 20 babies who are due to appear in 2008, and with Henry and Ruby eating up about 22 hours of my day (the other two are for sleep/compulsive DVD watching), I am not logging in much craft time. Since there's no way I could make 20 Jess Hutch dolls or even 20 baby hats, I decided to steal a page from Angry Chicken and whip up these onesies.

Amy posted about these about a year ago and I've had them stuck in my mind ever since. So cute, so easy and I have all this kids' fabric from Reprodepot laying around, left over from Henry's swatch portraits. So, with Ruby at her Nana's yesterday I swung into the craft store, bought some iron transfer paper, picked up some onesies at the Superstore and got to work.

So easy. I got 10 of these done in about two hours and I figure a package of two (or one for a not-so-close friend) should make a nice babe gift. I have one cousin who gave birth two days before Henry came along and another who had a baby last week (I have a big family, but three great-grandchildren in a month is a record for my Grandma), so I'm going to send a few of these off a.s.a.p. That leaves me with a few in reserve, plus the motivation to easily make some more when more babies are born. Hooray for simplicity, I say.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Depending On The Knits Of Others

Well, I'm not going to pretend I've been making stuff (other than food). For the first time in Henry's life, I knit a few stitches the other day, finishing the toe of a baby sock. Not super exciting. So, I'm going to spend a couple of posts celebrating the knits of others that have come into our home.

The awesome Lucy and her sweet family came by the other day with handknits for both Henry and Ruby (and a skein of Socks That Rock for me... Hooray!). Here's Henry in a sweet little sweater that she made. It fits perfectly (better than my still pretty big BSJ pictured a while back). And I love the bright colours -- baby clothes are usually so drab in colour and they wash poor Henry's dark good looks out.

It's been impossible to capture Ruby on film lately, so I had to photograph her sweater without a kid in it. But, it does look really nice on her. I love the i-cord tie at the neck. Super cute and also fits like a glove. And, she actually is willing to wear it, unlike most of the stuff I make her.

Finally, in an attempt to feel useful as something other as a full-time milk bar, my obsession with the Martha Stewart cookie book continues. And today, I actually made a successful cookie -- the Chocolate Chunk Walnut Banana cookie (though I used pecans instead of walnuts). It's basically banana bread in cookie form. Delicious.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

I Must Be Stopped...

I must be stopped from going into the kitchen. Really, this whole post-pregnancy brain-drain thing has made me stupid. Like a good mom, I decided to bake a batch of cookies, of course from the Martha Stewart cookie book that has me so obsessed. Since my breast-feeding body has been craving chocolate, I went with Grammy's chocolate cookies, since Martha's minions promised that they were super, super chocolatey. Yum.

So, imagine my sorrow when they turned out far lighter than the picture in the book and were barely chocolatey in flavour. Like, they just hinted at a taste of chocolate. Knowing that Martha is a woman who would never promise intense chocolate and then only offer a hint, I took a second look at the recipe. Where I had read 1/4 cup of cocoa, the recipe actually asked for 3/4 cup. Umm... oops.

They still taste okay, but just like average sugar cookies. I was so annoyed by my mistake that I almost made a second batch, but I figured that since these are technically okay, it would be a waste to toss them and I really don't need five sticks of butter worth of cookies sitting around my house while I'm trying to shake that baby weight. Because Martha doesn't skimp on chocolate, just like she sure the hell doesn't skimp on the butter, yo.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Okay, I swear on a stack of whatever that this is NOT going to become a baby blog. But, I was inspired by Leanne, who was inspired by Stroller Derby. Birth stories in six words. This I actually have time to do.

Ruby: Unnatural and chemical, ending with joy.
Henry: Deja vu, but more in control.

Crafty stuff next time. Promise.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Hits And Missess

No, I haven't been spending the early weeks with my new son making curtains. I actually finished these off about a week before Henry's arrival -- but I haven't been itching to post about them because I botched them up. What you see here is a variation on the cafe curtains from Amy Karol's Bend-The-Rules Sewing (what else?), made by someone too pregnant to have the good sense to measure properly.

I split the curtain so I could open them, not taking into account that the curtains would retain some of their folds when I pulled them shut. That, coupled with the fact that I probably folded in the edges more than I allowed for when measuring, they're now too small for the window. Oops. Of course, I don't have enough fabric to go at it again and Reprodepot is no longer carrying this stuff, so I'm on the search for another appropriate window fabric. I do like this pattern though -- Amy's use of twill tape to hang the curtains with is ingeniously easy, so once I find the time and the fabric, my kitchen window should be less scantily clad.

So that's the miss. The hit is this double chocolate brownie that I made last night after greedily picking up a copy of the new Martha Steward cookie book. Mmmm. Everything in it looks delicious and I have secret plans to make every cookie in the book. Even in my two-kid state I managed to pull off these super easy brownies. This is the perfect recipe -- loads of chocolate, a little bit of salt (too much says Aaron, but I like my chocolate a little salty) and the recipe is small enough that you won't feel guilty about having a pan of brownies sitting around your house begging to be eaten.

In other news, Henry is growing fast. At three weeks he's moving in on 10 lbs. I looked at some old photos yesterday and Henry is almost busting out of clothes that Ruby was wearing at four months. I can't believe how different siblings can turn out -- genetics freak me out!