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Here’s one of many projects that has been mostly finished for a long time. It’s finally wearable! It’s based loosely on the Burda Anda pattern, like the one I made here.
As with my previous version, I petitified it using existing clothing as a guide. This version is color-blocked, obviously, with no sleeves. I used a top from my closet to guide armhole sizing. I lowered the waist a bit and used elastic on the inside, rather than an outer drawstring casing like the pattern calls for.
I also used the bias tape as a facing rather than as an exposed detail. The tutorial for doing this with the Sorbetto top was very, very helpful and applicable to any number of projects. It’s not as tricky as it might sound, if you’ve used bias tape before. I’m beginning to get the hang of the bias tape thing. It’s really handy once you get used to it.
Lastly, I made a self belt, a little wider and shorter this time than last.
The reddish linen came from the bargain booth at the Hannover, Germany Stoffmarkt last June. The cream-colored linen was a remnant given to me by a friend. Earrings by Claire’s, circa the dark ages, and the wooden beaded necklace was a gift from my Granny a bajillion years ago. I want to say she picked it up on a trip to Israel.
I have to say I’m pretty happy with the dress. Think I’ll wear this one a lot. I’ve almost finished another Anda-inspired dress, if I can find my sewing scissors, so hopefully I can share that soon.
If you want to see some of my other sewing projects, click here.
Has it been a little cool where you are? It kind of went from salad weather to soup weather, then back again, and it’s thrown my cooking mojo off. At least, the weather is what I’m blaming it on. It’s time for me to get inspired again.
Do you change up your menu according to the season? I really prefer (mostly) to eat colder-type items in the warm months and vice versa. I thought I’d do a little recipe roundup, mostly salads, though I realized after thinking about it that most of my spring recipes come from one source: The Foster’s Market Cookbook. I get hungry just thinking about that book. The binding in mine is literally falling apart.
Below are links to some of my favorites from Foster’s and a few others. I’d love to hear what your favorite spring salads are, too. I need inspiration!
Jeweled Rice Salad, from the great Mollie Katzen. I’ve been making this for 10+ years. It features the strange-sounding combo of grapes and chickpeas with rice, marinated in a lemon dressing and tossed with parsley, scallions and (optional) pecans. Somehow more than the sum of its parts, and *bonus* won’t be dangerous after sitting in the sun a little while. So I take it to picnics.
From Foster’s Market:
Lentil Salad with Spinach and Feta As with many a Foster’s Market gem, the fabulous dressing is the key. Here is my version with some minor changes.
Sesame Noodle Salad (pictured above) Again, fabulous dressing, this time with a nutty, citrus vibe. My take (gluten-free!) is here. Btw, does anyone know if such a thing as gluten-free soba noodles exist? I would so love some.
White Bean Salad–I do love a good marinated bean salad, and this one has sun-dried tomatoes and spinach. I haven’t made it with olives yet, but I might be ready to try. I’m only a recent olives convert.
Black Bean and Yellow Rice Salad. Think Tex-Mex beans and rice but fresher, lighter. I made this one here.
Really, just go and check out the whole salad section on Foster’s Market website or better yet buy the book. Chicken salad faves: with Tarragon, Granny Smith Apples and Red Grapes; with Tomatoes, Spinach and Dijon Vinaigrette; with Provencal vinaigrette.
This last one I recently made with half chicken, half roasted cauliflower (it has a bunch of other veggies, too), and it was most excellent. Hmmm….I wonder about subbing in roasted cauliflower in full for a vegetarian version of these. All of these chicken salads are on the lighter side, with little or no mayo, plenty of veggies and flavor.
Chicken Curry Kebabs are always a hit. We often make it for guests because everyone loves it.
Falafel (from the box—it’s all I have time for) and Tabbouleh with Tahini Sauce and sometimes also Yogurt Sauce. The two sauces and tabbouleh come from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. I’m practically addicted to the Tahini Sauce, which is basically tahini thinned with water and lemon juice, plus salt + pepper and cumin.
What are some of your warm weather favorites? I’m hungry!
By: Emily Smith Pearce,
Blog: Emily Smith Pearce
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Can you say it three times fast?
Sorry I haven’t been around much in the last week or so. Now that a certain girl’s
coronation birth day weekend week is over, I’m coming up for air.
We did it, folks. We survived a sleepover birthday party (plus days of other celebratory activities) and lived to tell the tale. I’m not exactly sure how she
hypnotized talked us into the sleepover. All told, it went pretty well, though, and thankfully, the girls got along.
One highlight of the party was “Pass the Parcel,” which our daughter learned from her British (and half-British) friends in Germany. It’s really a fun, sweet game, and you can organize it so that everyone feels like they’ve won.
Basically, you have a small prize wrapped up in layers upon layers of wrapping paper. You pass the parcel around while music plays, and each time the grown up stops the music, the person holding the parcel gets to unwrap a layer. Ideally, each layer holds a tiny prize (in this case, Jolly Ranchers) and there’s at least one layer for each player.
We got distracted a bit while wrapping our parcel, and some layers—oops!—were empty. Nevermind, the girls were gracious and divided the candy evenly at the end.
At the center, we placed a collection of polymer clay beads and linen string, so each kid could make a necklace, bracelet, or key chain thingy. I had them pass the bead collection around and let each child choose a bead until they were all gone. Thankfully, there wasn’t much fuss about who got what colors. They’re all pretty, right?
Then each child strung the beads into the desired shape. So fun.
My kids and I had made the beads months earlier, with no thought of a party. I was inspired by this lovely post, which includes instructions, but I couldn’t figure out a way to string them in a way that suited me, so they sat around for months. I think I’ll try making some for me again—we have more clay.
Anyway the beads were a hit, and the activity was just enough—not too long, not too frustrating. We may have to make “Pass the Parcel” a party staple!
By: Emily Smith Pearce,
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Here’s one of my recent sewing projects. It’s made from the free Sorbetto pattern from Collette. It’s really a lovely pattern, well-designed with clear instructions. I used exposed bias tap on the neck and used the bias tape as a facing on the arm holes. There are no fasteners—it’s just a simple popover top with a pleated front. It came together pretty quickly and was really satisfying.
I even finished the insides properly, which I meant to show you, but oh well. The only thing I would ask is, how are you supposed to finish off the darts?
The cotton batiste/ voile (?) fabric came from an open-air market in Germany. I was in love with the print at first, but now I think it would actually make a better pillowcase than a blouse. Oh well. I’m wearing it anyway. I may make another Sorbetto in a different fabric.
Skirt by Old Navy, belt by Target, earrings by an etsy seller whose name I sadly can’t find. Necklace (a favorite) by Gaines Kiker, silversmith in Blowing Rock, NC.
Wow, what a week last week! All the destruction and loss of life in Boston and Texas, then Boston (where many loved ones live) on lockdown all Friday. I don’t know about you, but I’m still kind of reeling from it. My heart goes out to all those affected by these tragedies.
On top of that I’ve got the reverse culture shock that seems to visit me after every big national conversation. It’s often jarring to hear what people say when they’re frightened and trying to make sense of it all.
So it was welcome therapy to dig in the garden with the kids yesterday. We planted annual flowers, not pictured here, but we are so enjoying watching our vegetable garden.
I let the kids pick their favorite vegetables. Our five-year-old chose “salad,” which is what he calls lettuce or spinach. The way he uses the word is very German. Our eight-year-old chose carrots, and they’re coming up very nicely.
I started peppers and tomatoes indoors. They used to look like this:
But then I set them out for too long in the sun and fried nearly all of them. Ugh. I was so proud of them.
There are still a few that appear to be living, so I’m trying to nurse them back to health.
Meanwhile, I’ve been sewing a lot (very therapeutic), and I’m barreling ahead with some rewrites in my novel. I’ve been getting some ideas from the book Structuring Your Novel by Robert C. Meredith and John D. Fitzgerald. And my protagonist is facing some reverse culture shock of her own, so at least I can use mine.
What about you? Growing anything in the garden this year?
Have a great Monday!
When I first heard the news about Boston yesterday, my kids were in the middle of playing.
We need some string.
The red string. Where is it?
I made a half-hearted attempt to find the string and then told them I was busy, couldn’t find it, they would have to figure it out somehow.
My eight-year-old, very sweetly: It’s okay, Mommy. We’ll find a way. Don’t worry.
And they left.
Boston holds a special place in my heart. It’s my husband’s hometown and the place we lived when we first met. I fell back into iPad world, checking to make sure friends and family were okay, writing people I knew might’ve been near the blasts. I couldn’t do anything else for what seemed like a long time.
Awhile later I went downstairs to find this scene in the back yard, kids happily occupied. Sigh. What a welcome relief from sad news, and how nice to see they “made it work” with one of our favorite toys. More about the Schneckenband (literally snail-band—–the thing holding up the bucket) here.
We ate scrambled eggs for supper at the campsite. It was a happy distraction.
I hope you and your loved ones are well. My heart and my prayers go out to the city of Boston. I miss you always, but especially now.
By: Emily Smith Pearce,
Blog: Emily Smith Pearce
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Here’s what I’ve been reading lately:
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling of The Office and The Mindy Project fame
Um, love her. A fun, quick read.
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See
This one is going slowly for me (and the foot-binding accounts are hard to stomach) but it’s a vivid window onto a fascinating world: 19th-century China. I’m also intrigued by the idea of a novel about a friendship.
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg
This is an old favorite I’m reading to the kids. What could be more exciting than running away to live in the Metropolitan Museum?
Mennonite in a Little Black Dress by Rhoda Janzen
Laughed a lot reading this memoir.
The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap by Wendy Welch
Nonfiction. A little gem about the at-times hilarious ups and downs of opening a used bookstore in a small town. Felt like I was having tea with a friend.
Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell
I’d been meaning to read this nonfiction for a long time (I read The Tipping Point in the last year or so). Fascinating look into our assumptions about what leads to success.
Artisanal Gluten-Free Cooking by Kelli and Peter Bronski
I confess I haven’t cooked anything from this one yet, but it’s a lovely book, and I’m intrigued to try, especially recipes involving their special flour blend.
In other news, I’ve been watching Game of Thrones (love that Tyrion!!) and have to try this Top of the Lake I’m hearing about. Also, recently learned that Fashion Star features someone from my hometown, so, I’ve got to catch up on that. What about you? Read anything great lately? Watching anything that shouldn’t be missed?
I had to whip up something quick for my daughter’s Wax Museum Day at school. This is a grade-wide project where the students read a biography, dress up like their historical figure, and prepare remarks to present to visitors.
The students are supposed to stand still like wax figures until a parent gives them a ticket. Then they animate and introduce themselves as “so-and-so.” It’s so totally cute I can’t even tell you. I’m partial to the costumes involving mustaches.
Little Miss wanted to be a princess, of course, so she chose Russian princess Anastasia Romanov. We went to the thrift store and chose some pieces to alter.
The key elements, we decided, were a white flowy dress with a square neckline, plus pearls. I flipped the blouse backward, sized it down, and made a square neckline using a tutorial I can no longer find. It wasn’t as difficult as it might sound—-actually pretty easy. The skirt I just sized down but left otherwise as-is.
Then I added, at her request, a sash made from blanket binding. It was once a part of this costume but got accidentally ripped off. I also made a little medallion from lightweight cardboard and sequins.
She did a great job with her presentation and is now reading everything she can about Anastasia. I guess we should try that movie that was made in the 90s, although I’m sure it’s more fiction than not.
Did you go away for spring break? We visited family in California and went skiing. It was a blast, but coming back to East Coast time is not. Oh well, it was worth it!
* The Anastasia image is from Wikipedia.
I’m on a cauliflower kick, what can I say? I seem to be eating a lot of it, roasted, with various toppings. I think it’s because my friend Laurel mentioned it, then it was in the paper (something about a cauliflower trend—yes I still read a paper paper) and then I just couldn’t get it out of my head.
Besides cutting out wheat, I’m avoiding large servings of grains in general, so the idea of something mild and non-grain that takes flavors very well —–a sauce depository, if you will—-is very appealing. I was never a huge fan of cauliflower in the past, but I think, as with many veggies, I just had to find my favorite cooking method. Roasting wins.
First, preheat the oven to 375F. Slice the cauliflower into pieces about 1/4 inch to 1/3 inch thick, brush with olive oil and roast for about 20 minutes (just like the broccoli here). If you’re going to make the vinaigrette below, throw in a clove or two of garlic and roast them while you’re at it.
When the cauliflower is tender but still firm, with browning on the edges, it’s done. At least, that’s the done-ness I like.
At this point you could serve it with any number of sauces or toppings: peanut sauce? bread crumb/ nut topping? curry?
I made this vinaigrette in homage to a bread dipping sauce from a favorite restaurant, Passion8 Bistro in Fort Mill. Charlotte area friends, seriously, you MUST go there. It’s this funky little farm-to-fork place in the middle of nowhere. Besides great food, it has loads of character.
But I digress.
The vinaigrette is a loose combination of:
Roasted Garlic, minced
Chopped Olives (I used green ones but kalamata would be excellent)
a spoonful of Capers
a judicious amount of red pepper flakes (I’m addicted)
Red Wine Vinegar
Salt and Pepper to taste
I usually do a little more olive oil than vinegar and just add however much I like of the rest of the stuff, to taste.
Charlotte friends, I feel compelled to mention a couple of places we’ve eaten recently that, in addition to Passion8 Bistro, were just outstanding.
- The King’s Kitchen (which is owned by the same guy that owns Roosters, which I also love) is outstanding—-sort of re-imagined upscale meat and three, and btw it’s non-profit, which is totally fascinating and you should read about it on their website. I had the hangar steak. Yum!
- Doan’s Vietnamese Restaurant: try the hotpots!! It’s like a Vietnamese broth fondue. So excellent and fun. Best tomyum broth I’ve ever had.
- And one more: Zeitouni’s Mediterranean Grill at Toringdon in Ballantyne. Seriously, how did I not get a clue about this place earlier? The falafel is TO DIE FOR!
Okay, that’s a lot of exclamation points, but really, it’s been good dining lately. What about you? What’s got you inspired in the kitchen/ out to eat lately?
By: Emily Smith Pearce,
Blog: Emily Smith Pearce
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One of my favorite things is Terry Gross’s show, Fresh Air, on NPR. I especially love the interviews with actors and writers. Lately I’ve been listening to the podcasts while I’m doing something boring, like folding laundry.
Sometimes there just aren’t enough of Fresh Air interviews, though, so I’ve been looking for more conversations with authors and artists. Here are a few good ones I’ve found:
This Creative Life, created by YA author Sara Zarr (who btw also blogs here). There are interviews with a lot of writers and other creatives about how they work and live. I especially enjoyed the one with author Andrew Auseon (who is also a video game designer).
Mini studio-tours with artists at Little Scraps of Paper make me smile so much. The one above is of three collaborators who make these wacky wonderful costumey-snuggie-kind-of-things. Trust me, you just have to watch it. The videos are so beautifully filmed and just the right size for a quick pick-me-up. Thank you to Blair Stocker of Wisecraft for this hot tip.
Here’s a video of young fashion blogger/ Rookie magazine editor Tavi speaking at TEDxTeen about the strong female characters she’s looking for, and not always finding. YA writers, if you don’t know Tavi, you SHOULD!
What about you? Do you have any favorite creativity-related podcasts?
And by the way, are you on Twitter? I’ve been on it for years but am really just now learning the language and getting into it. I’m discovering all kinds of things there, including some of the above links. Meet me on Twitter @emilysmithpearc
A few other random things:
-Speaking of talks about art and writing, if you’re in the Charlotte area, check out the April meeting for the Women’s National Book Association (yes, men, you can join us, too): Monday, April 22, 6:30 – 8:30 PM at Consolidated Planning. The talk is titled “Latin American and Latino Women Writers and Literature in Translation.” More details here.
-Did you hear about the break in the Isabella Stewart Gardner art heist case? Soooo exciting. I used to work down the street from this lovely, one-of-a-kind museum.
-Saw Natalie Merchant the other night with the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra. Great show. Her new material is as complex and thought-provoking as ever, though I have to admit my favorite part was the 90′s set she did for an encore. The nostalgia factor is hard to beat. Seriously, what pipes she’s got—and what a talented songwriter.
-Lastly, I love this DIY magic potion kit over at Elsie Marley.
What’s got you inspired these days?
This is Heidi Swanson’s recipe (Broccoli Gribiche) from Super Natural Every Day. But it’s basically a potato salad with more stuff plus a delicious dressing. Check out the recipe here if you don’t have the book.
I’m sure mine would’ve been even better if I’d had the fresh herbs—this was just before we put in our new herb garden. I added roasted cherry tomatoes, and for the dressing, I cooked the shallots on low to soften them up a bit before adding them. I’m sure this cranked down the flavor a bit, but we just don’t do raw onion relatives around here very well.
Anyway, if I make it again, and I probably will, I’ll definitely do the fresh herbs and maybe add a wee bit more vinegar….or a squeeze of lemon.
But the basic idea (roasted veggies and eggs with dressing) is pretty simple and really effective. Also very filling. If you couldn’t tell, I’m really into roasted vegetable salads right now. For more of my posts on less-meatarian cooking, click here.
Hope you have a great weekend! So sorry, friends in northern climates, about the weather. I hope spring will make its way to you very soon. I hear you could use it.
If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, you may remember my first encounter with real Easter grass, in my son’s German kindergarten. I was almost amazed at the simple thought of growing something that we’d always bought manufactured from plastic, in plastic bags.
But really, it’s the simplest, easiest thing you could ever grow, and the payoff is huge. This year, we’re growing our own at home. I’m just as excited as the kids to watch the green pop up.
I got a package of wheat grass seeds from the garden center, we filled some pots, lay the seeds on top, and watered. My son, now 5, told us not to cover the seeds with any dirt.
It’s got me singing Now the green blade riseth…
P.S. The lovely bird pot was a gift from our friend Sally Brotman, she of chicken kebab fame I love, love this pot!
The front door needed something, something that was NOT the red berry wreath that has seen better days. I wanted to make a wreath that wasn’t permanent, not too fussy or prim, but would give us a burst of spring color.
Also, it had to be easy and quick. I pictured something along the lines of the ribbon wreath my daughter made last year. Or maybe a little like the Anthropologie thread-wrapped bricks I saw on Pinterest. Or the yarn-and-fiber wrapped rabbit I’d seen at the Ackland Museum Store in Chapel Hill. For the life of me, I can’t find the name of that artist or a link to her work, so let me know if you know what I’m talking about.
I bought a straw wreath form at Michaels and pulled out a bunch of spring-colored scraps: leftover strips from this quilt, scraps from this dress and this one, and Kool-Aid dyed yarns.
I started wrapping and pinning on the darker color strips, hoping a little dark poking through from the bottom layer would keep the color scheme from getting too saccharine. Though in the end there’s actually very few darks to be seen.
Next came the lighter and brighter strips, then the ribbons. Last, I started wrapping the yarn, but my five-year-old was really into that part, so I let him wrap until the whole thing had a good spreading of yarn.
In the end, I’m fairly happy with the results. It hit all my requirements, though it didn’t quite match up to my vision. Hubs wasn’t so sure about it at first, but it’s grown on him, he says. Either that or he just wants to make sure I make his favorite chicken salad this week.
For more of my posts about crafts, click here.
Is it spring where you are? We had lovely weather over the weekend, and things are sprouting up in the garden.
Meanwhile, I’m still inching along with the revision on my novel. I’m remembering something Katherine Paterson once said/ wrote….something to the effect that she had to sculpt her plot out of granite, using straight pins. My process is feeling something like that. I keep making headway but then realizing there’s so much more to do. What are you up to?
And the Random Number Generator chose…Kathi Miller, whose comment was:
“My favorite is In Between Gray because of its simplicity, blue which is my favorite color”
In Between Gray is pictured above.
Congratulations, Kathi! You can message me at emily (at) emilysmithpearce (dot) com to let me know your address, which I’ll pass on to Dawn.
Thanks to everyone who participated! If you didn’t win, remember to favorite Dawn’s etsy shop, where you can nab whichever prints you like, at a very reasonable price, I might add.
If I don’t see you before the weekend, have a great one. I’m waiting, waiting, waiting for our trees to bud.
By: Emily Smith Pearce,
Blog: Emily Smith Pearce
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I threw this together the other night when I needed something pretty quick and had to use what I had on hand. It was a perfect easy supper.
It’s inspired by Rachael Ray’s Calabacitas Casserole, which is yummy but more involved, with no beans. I once had it at my sister-in-law’s house, and was immediately sold.
My casserole is based on three main ingredients: black beans, salsa, and pre-cooked polenta. Anything else is icing on the cake.
Quick Black Bean and Polenta Casserole
Measurements are approximated. What you want is enough salsa to give the beans plenty of flavor.
2-3 cups canned or pre-cooked black beans, drained (I used up leftovers I had cooked the day before)
1/2 to 1 jar chunky salsa (I used Herdez salsa, which was great, but would’ve been better semi-drained. I think semi-drained Ro-tel would also be excellent, and maybe even Mexican-style stewed tomatoes)
1 tube prepared polenta, sliced into 1/3 inch rounds (you could also cook your own, then chill and slice)
Optional add-ins: diced scallions, cilantro, chopped veggies, spinach, cheese
Preheat oven to 375 F. I made a smaller version of this (since it was just for me) and cooked it in the toaster oven.
Place the beans in an oiled casserole dish (maybe 8 x 8), and add enough salsa to suit your taste. You want a little less salsa than beans, but enough salsa to add lots of flavor. Lay the polenta rounds on top and brush them with a little olive oil.
Bake for 35 minutes or so at 375 F, then add, if you feel like it, a handful of spinach and chopped scallions, and turn up the heat to 400 F. When the spinach is wilted, the polenta is getting crispy, and the beans are bubbling, it’s done.
The polenta adds structure and has such a great creamy/ crispy texture that I really didn’t miss having cheese. This one will definitely go on my repeat list. I think I’ll add more spinach next time and maybe cilantro. Hmmm…what about sweet potato?
For more of my recipes and recipe trials, click here.
You have less than a day left to join the giveaway for a gorgeous Dawn Hanna print. Details here. All you have to do is comment about which print is your favorite—-you won’t be added to a mailing list. Just enjoy!
The ongoing broccoli battle in our house is, I believe, finally won. No, it wasn’t over whether or not certain people will eat it. The kids don’t love it, but they’ll eat it without much of a fuss. The battle is over the best way to cook it.
Hubs prefers stir-frying with soy sauce, but I find that time-consuming and too hands-on to do all the time. For a long time my favorite method was steaming, then rolling in olive oil, garlic, and breadcrumbs. Hubs ate this broccoli dutifully but missed the stir-fry texture.
Enter Mollie Katzen’s vegetable roasting guide from Vegetable Heaven. I’ve used the roasting guide so much that the book naturally opens to that page. It’s great for many a veggie, but at our house, it’s helped us find the broccoli method that results in the perfect texture + flavor+ easy-ness.
Add a drizzle of balsamic vinaigrette, and you have us battling again, over seconds.
So, here’s my adaptation of the original Mollie Katzen recipe. It’s less of a recipe, more of an idea for you:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Slice your broccoli florets in half. I find this helps things cook a little faster and more evenly.
Brush a cookie tray with olive oil, and arrange the florets on it.
I usually cook about 20 minutes, but check at 15 minutes to see how it’s going. Personally, I like the broccoli still firm but tender, with some brown edges.
Serve with your favorite vinaigrette. Here’s what we use:
In a jar or bottle, combine:
about an inch Balsamic Vinegar
about an inch and a half, maybe more, Olive Oil
a big squirt/ soup spoonful Dijon Mustard (you can use powdered mustard here as a substitute)
small squirt of Honey, to taste
freshly ground Pepper
dusting to half a handful freshly grated Parmesan (*optional)
I always taste the dressing and adjust seasonings to suit.
Enjoy! For more of my cooking posts, click here or on the “Food” category.
Do NOT forget to join the giveaway for a gorgeous Dawn Hanna print. There’s no downside here, people. You won’t be added to a mailing list. Just check out her gorgeous work and decide which is your fave, then comment on it. You do not have to live in the U.S. to enter.
I’m very excited to introduce Dawn Hanna, artist and photographer. I’ve admired her work for years and am so glad she’s pursuing her art full-time these days. She was kind enough to agree to an interview, and also, to offer a giveaway to my readers! See details at the end of the interview.
Dawn was born in Rhode Island but has lived in the south for many years. She’s recently left a 17 year career in social work to launch Dawning Day Studios, her photography, layout, and design business. She is a freelance photographer for Getty Images and Arcangel and has been published in Artful Blogging and Time magazine. Currently, Dawn is working on a soon-to-be-published e-book of artist self-portraits from around the world.
So, Dawn, how did you get started with photography?
I have been an artist my entire life….I think I came out of the womb staring at the colors and shapes around me. I picked up a Brownie Instamatic camera when I was 11 years old. From there, I learned how to develop and print in a darkroom (during prehistoric times…yes I am old!) in high school. In my early adult years, I worked a lot in the darkroom at The Light Factory in Charlotte and showed in juried shows here and there. Then life took its course and I found myself a mom and growing a family. I bought my first digital camera in 2007 and learned Photoshop from a dear friend of mine. Digital expanded my mind into the kind of work that I had always wanted to do and found myself totally immersed in it from that point on. I joined flickr and found daily inspiration from fellow photographers and artists who fed and continue to feed my soul on a daily basis. With the exposure and power of the internet…..I gained recognition for my work from book designers, art directors and stock photography agencies. It has been a steady and amazing growth since then.
What do you do when you get low on inspiration?
I have found that getting in the car and traveling somewhere does the trick for me. Sometimes I think our eyes get tired or they overlook the beauty in everyday that a new perspective can regain.
What do you recommend for someone who’s just getting started in photography?
I would highly encourage you to jump onto the many photo sharing websites such as flickr, instagram, google + or 500px and see what the world is doing with a camera these days. There is infinite inspiration on these websites and people are generous and encouraging to all. When I first joined flickr, I was scared out of my mind to put my work out there, but I will tell you that it has been nothing short of an incredible journey and led to my growth as a photographer and an artist.
What are you working on currently?
Currently, my partner and I are working on a book layout and design for an upcoming publication that is near and dear to both of our hearts. It has been a labor of love and we can’t wait for the book to be published.
I would have to say that my current obssession, like many others…is exploring the world of iphoneology. The possibilities are absolutely endless and it is so exciting to be on the beginning curve of an incredible piece of technology and artistic trend as the iPhone and iPads are.
Thanks so much for agreeing to share with us today, Dawn. You can find Dawn around the web at her Facebook page, her etsy shop, and on flickr. And seriously, follow her on Instagram. Wow!
As I mentioned, Dawn has graciously offered to give a print to one lucky reader from anywhere in the world. To enter, go to Dawn’s etsy shop, then comment here on the blog about which print is your favorite.
You have until 12 noon Eastern Standard Time on March 14, 2013 (one week from today), at which time I’ll use the random number generator to choose a winner. You won’t be added to a mailing list, but I hope you’ll like Dawn on Facebook and favorite her etsy shop.
Personally, I’m in love with the barbed wire piece. You have to go check it out!
Sometime in the last few months I got it in my head that I wanted a cashmere blanket. Like, really wanted one. I think maybe I started obsessing when I was paging through Handmade Home and saw all the cozy, cozy stacks of blankets. I just wanted to curl up with them. I didn’t want to fork over the money for cashmere, though, so I started scheming. Could I possibly find enough thrifted cashmere to make a blanket?
Sometimes it’s hard to come by, but lo and behold, there was a bumper crop of cashmere at Goodwill this fall. Some of it was in perfect condition, in my size, with classic lines. What?! I washed those and put them in my closet.
The rest of it, the out-of-fashion, the holey, the wrong sizes, I cut into rectangles (excluding the holey bits) after washing it. I added in a few washed and shrunken merino sweaters, too, to round things out and make the blanket a little bigger.
In all I used six sweaters for the blanket. It went together pretty quickly, and the kids were very excited to help place the pieces. Everyone was already fighting over it before it was even done.
I had planned to lap the edges, but kind of forgot that plan until midway through. Oh well. Next blanket, maybe. I already have some cashmere pieces waiting.
Personally I like all the little weirdnesses of sweater pieces, the rolled edges, the seams and ribbing here and there. And it’s kind of nice to have a “smooth” side and a “wrong side.” I like them both.
For sewing the pieces together, I used (I think) a regular machine needle and upped the stitch length a bit. I had no problems with it. If you want specific instructions for sewing a cashmere sweater blanket, check out Betz White’s book Warm Fuzzies.
Random: love loved this fire and ice birthday party over at elsie marley. Almost makes me want to live in a frozen place again.
Also, has anyone been watching Parade’s End on HBO? I can’t fully follow the storyline, but wow, the clothes are incredible!
And lastly, next week I’ll be introducing you to a friend of mine, artist/ photographer Dawn Hanna. So excited! Her work is drop-dead gorgeous.
Okay, folks. Have a great weekend.
These are just a riff on the chickpea tacos I made here (recipe from Amy’s Cooking Adventures).
I just made enchilada sauce from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian (subbing ancho chiles for the kind he calls for) and used the roasted chickpeas and baby spinach as filling and baked according to Bittman’s enchilada instructions.
After struggling with several different methods of preparing enchilada shells, I stumbled upon the easiest trick. Just stack a few in a clean dishtowel and wrap like a present. Zap for about 30 seconds, and they’ll be perfectly warm and pliable. So much easier than frying or dipping them!
Though the sauce was a lot of work (maybe something to make in advance) these were delicious, and my husband even preferred them to the meat version I had also made. I think it’s because the chickpeas are so spicy and lime-y.
If you’re interested in more of my less-meat recipe trials, just click on the “Food” category on my blog.
Have a great weekend. Friends in Northeastern North America, I hope you stay warm and get to play in the snow!
I’m just a teensy bit late with this Halloween post. Our little man just had to, had to be the green ninja from Ninjago. It was a bit of a trick figuring out how to make up the costume, especially the sword-holding thingy in the back, which, according to my son, was absolutely essential.
I bought cheap green jogging pants and used gold fabric paint (the kind you squeeze out) to make the little gold shapes on them. On the figure they’re actually silver but, whatever.
The top is a green fleece I refused to paint on since I wanted him to be able to wear it plain later. I did add black cardboard-and-toilet-paper-roll epaulets on the shoulders, tacked on with thread. These were only semi-sucessful. You can see them hanging off his shoulders. We probably should’ve skipped them.
The headpiece is another simple balaclava I made like the ones for the knight costumes, only with a silver piece sewn on. The green is a thrifted sweatshirt and the silver from the same thrifted sweater that I used for one of the knight helmets.
The black belt is actually Daddy’s bathrobe sash. Ha! And the sword-holder-thingy in back (sorry, no picture) I made by cutting slits in a small cardboard box that I painted black. Four slits for the swords, then some small holes for the ties cut from sweatshirt material. We then tied the ties around his chest to hold the box on his back.
It’s not fancy, but it worked. This is kind of my costume philosophy—-I want them to be comfortable and re-usable but inexpensive and quickly slapped together. Thrifted knits are great for this.
For other low-sew costumes with thrifted parts, check out our fireman suit, knight, and turtle costumes. Oh, and here’s a princess for good measure, with maybe a little more sewing involved.
In other news, I’ve been doing some development work on secondary characters in my novel, using this questionnaire. The questionnaire was originally written for role-playing gaming, but totally works for novel-writing, too. I’ve been surprised at some of the interesting things that are coming from it. Hope I can put them to good use.
Northern friends, I hope you’re not stuck in the snow, or at least if you are, that you’ve got power, food, and board games.
Yep, this is just the same pancake batter (Ben’s Friday Pancakes from Feeding the Whole Family) made into waffles. No changes at all except cooking method. They turned out really well. Great texture and flavor. Gluten-free if you use gluten-free oats. Yum!
In other news, I’m still plugging away at the character exercises on my novel. On a whim, I decided to organize all the documents related to this novel. Over a hundred documents! Seems like it should be finished by now, but there’s so much more to do.
No, we aren’t expecting any pitter patter of (more) little feet. Nope. No, seriously, these aren’t for our family.
I found pieces from a cloth diaper pattern I’d cut out ages ago, in a pregnant nesting phase (loooooong story), and decided they had to be made up for a certain Viking baby who was just born. His cloth diapering mama has several older boys, so I thought baby Viking needed a little something new that was just his.
Good gravy! There’s just something about itty bitty cloth diapers that I find totally irresistible. Maybe a strange object of affection, but I’m so goo-goo over these.
Below is a shot of the inside, wrong side out, before the edges were sewn. The middle rectangle is what’s called a soaker, the absorbent pad in the diaper. In this case it’s flannel and, I think, old cotton T-shirt material.
The outer yellow fabric is also flannel. The hook and loop closure is called Touch Tape and is like velcro’s much stronger and gentler brother. It rocks, basically. The blue fabric, used on the inside of one diaper, is hand-dyed terry cotton velour leftover from a semi-failed attempt at making a custom Boppy cover. Hand-dyed, because yes, I’m exactly that crazy.
Like I said, my nesting phases = long story.
Anyway, these came together pretty quickly because I’d made so many of them before. Mama-friend was very pleased with the diapers, which made me so happy. Hopefully they will fit Baby Viking for more than a few days!
If you’re interested in diaper sewing yourself, there are tons of resources out there, but here’s a free pattern for ones similar to these. I would definitely recommend having some sewing experience under your belt before trying them. They’re not really soooo involved, but they wouldn’t be a good beginner project.
Hope you have a great weekend. I’ve been getting so excited about the seedlings I’m growing for our garden. Stay alive! Stay alive! I tell them. What are you up to?
I know, I’ve been doing a lot of tacos. I can’t help myself. Here’s yet another simple twist.
I’ve had plenty of spinach and mushroom enchiladas before at restaurants but somehow never thought to recreate something similar until the recipe here, in Super Natural Every Day by Heidi Swanson (she of 101cookbooks fame).
Her version is minus the spinach and uses fancier mushrooms (chanterelles, or Pfefferlinge, if you’re German—btw wouldn’t it be great to see this on a seasonal Pfefferlinge menu?). I just used plain brown mushrooms. Along with the mushrooms, there’s garlic, onions, and a serrano pepper involved. Yum.
I used frozen chopped spinach from Trader Joe’s. I definitely recommend spinning or squeezing it dry if you’re going that route. Fresh spinach would also totally work, of course. Either way just saute it a little in the pan, but separately from the mushrooms so each veggie cooks at the right temp and length.
I find the mushrooms really satisfying and a welcome change from my normal array of vegetables. And it was a quick lunch.
Do you get stuck in veggie ruts? I’m not-so-patiently waiting for the local-ish asparagus to come in. I’m guessing it’s still Rotkohl (red cabbage) season in Deutschland? That’s one of those dishes I’ve only appreciated in restaurants and haven’t yet ventured into cooking myself. (If you’re wondering why I’m talking about German vegetables, it’s because last year this time, we were living in Hannover, Germany).
In other news, our local chapter of the WNBA (no, not basketball—the Women’s National Book Association) had a great joint meeting the other night with the Charlotte Writer’s Club. It was a panel about the process of getting published, with lots of great food for thought from industry folk.
Meanwhile I’m still plugging away at my character interviews led by these questions. Writers, have you ever done this? It’s such a Magic-8-ball/ subconscious-channeling kind of exercise. Feels weird at times, but I’m coming up with lots of good character stuff that relates to the plot.
Oh, and one last aside. I did a Skype call to talk about Slowpoke with a class of first graders last week. So fun. Best question, which still has me laughing: “Are you ever afraid you’ll never finish another book?”
I got a bunch of lovely silk remnants (crepe?) from a friend who was leaving Hannover some time ago. I’d never sewn with silk before, but it only took me two years to work up my nerve to actually run it through the sewing machine.
I thought and thought about the best thing to make with it. The remnants are lovely but a little pale for my coloring. I over-dyed some of it, which I’ve been working into a dress. I was planning to use all of it for clothes, but the camel and pale green then turned out to be just right for a throw for our “book nook.”
Ever since reading Handmade Home, I’ve been wanting all sorts of handmade throws to snuggle up with. And natural fibers! But of course natural fibers for a large project get pretty expensive.
But with gifted silk remnants, the decadence could be mine, all mine! And really, was imperfect silk sewing really better than letting all that lovely silk just sit in storage?
My original plan was to quilt the throw. The assembly part went pretty well, not as tricky as I’d feared. I used part of an old sheet for the middle layer. But machine-quilting silk was another story. I liked making crazy lines with the machine, but the silk got all slippy and puckery, but not in a fun way. So I just stopped quilting after a little while and left it at that. I would unpick the quilting, but I think it’d make it worse, and anyway, it’s just for us. The throw is a really nice weight, perfect for a little reading or a quick nap.
And I’m all about celebrating imperfections. Otherwise this throw would still be remnants in the stash box. Hopefully my gifting friend won’t see this and gasp with horror
Stay tuned for another natural fiber throw of a very different kind. And hopefully that overdyed silk dress will be ready soon. It’s allllllmost finished.
If you, too, have silk-sewing fears, here are some tips I found very helpful from Sunni of a fashionable stitch.
Have a great weekend!
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You may think I’m a vegetarian from all my veggie posts, but I DO eat meat. Just not a lot of it. More on that here.
We love burgers around here, but I’m always trying to get my people to eat ones that don’t involve red meat. The turkey ones always seem to need a bit of doctoring, in my experience. I love the Mar-a-Lago burgers championed by Oprah, but really, they’re just too much work for a weeknight and the flavors, while delicious, don’t really go with our favorite toppings (like ketchup and pickles).
These are a good compromise, and, with a few recent tweaks, they’ve entered into that rare realm which is the full-family-seal-of-approval. Like, all four members. I’m probably jinxing that status just by typing this, but I’m willing to risk it, just for you.
My recipe is adapted from this one.
Favorite Turkey Burgers
1/2 cup rolled oats*
1 1/2 pounds ground turkey (I use breast meat)*
3 TB mayonnaise
1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped onion (the finer the better, in order to trick the kids)
1 TB Worcestershire sauce
dash of hot sauce
good sprinkling of sweet paprika
a judicious amount of ground pepper
1. If your turkey meat is fairly dry, moisten the oats with about a tablespoon of water and let rest for a minute or two. If the meat has a fair amount of water content already, skip this step.
2. Combine with other ingredients. I hate doing this with my hands so I use two big spoons. Mix just enough to get it well-combined and make into patties.
3. You can grill these, but I find it’s actually a lot easier to cook them in my cast iron pan on the stove. They fall apart easily on the grill. I cook them at medium low for several minutes on each side to make sure they’re all the way done. This way the outsides don’t burn. Check to make sure there’s no pink.
4. Add toppings and enjoy!
*So, like many turkey burger recipes, the mother recipe called for bread crumbs. Since I’m not eating wheat, I could use GF bread crumbs, but I decided instead to try oatmeal. Bingo! Totally works and in fact is an improvement in my book.
*Last night I discovered I had a pound of turkey, not a pound and a half. The whole mixture was gooey (ew!) so I added a second half cup of oatmeal. I was a little nervous about the gamble, but they turned out great, with no comments from the peanut gallery. And as a bonus, they used less meat.
One question I have for you—-all turkey burger recipes seem to have something like mayo in them for, I guess, texture and flavor. Do you think the mayo nixes the health benefits of changing to turkey meat? Do you think I could skip it?
And one more question: anybody have a fantastic gluten-free vegan burger recipe? I know, sounds like a tall order, but I’m totally convinced there’s one out there. So far I haven’t done any trials, but let me know if you’re ahead of me.
For more recipe trials and food posts, look here.