Saturday, July 28, 2012

Etsy finds - Lammas Harvest

The seasons are pushing on so quickly, didn't we just have spring? It's been very hot here tho, and the summer's veggie harvest is in full swing. Today my Grove is celebrating Lammas, a time to remember the hard work of preparing fields for planting, and to enjoy first harvest.  Let's gather in joy and share the first sheaves of wheat together!

This wonderful piece of artwork is from ThomasPhilbrook, such great colors!
Lughnasadh is another name for this festival, honoring the Celtic god Lugh. Here is his mighty spear shaped into a pendant by HoodedCrowCrafts

Legend tells us that Lugh ordered the celebration of the harvest to commemorate his foster mother Tailtiu who cleared the land for planting. This lovely wheat wreath is from PositivelyPagan.
In this modern world we often forget about the efforts of everyone who works hard to keep us fed. Take a moment to reflect on the amazing journey that energy takes to get from the sun to your tabletop. Cross-stitch pattern from BlueMoonEnterprises
So, light a candle to honor the sun, and be sure to thank Mother Earth for her bounties. Colorful harvest candles from MagickalCupboard.

What do you do to celebrate the bountiful summer months?

Friday, July 27, 2012

Treasury - Tree of Life

Another wonderful Treasury feature courtesy of my good friend ToadWerks. Give some love to these artist and the curator!

Monday, July 23, 2012

New Embroidery Project

After last year's Wheel of the Year project I was searching for a new theme to continue the season centered crafting. I settled on doing eight flowers for the seasons, in a circle of blooming goodness.
 For Midsummer we have Lavender, I made a technical sketch first. Then divided out the fabric into eight slices and transferred the shapes. I had a bundle of fresh colors to pick from to find just the right shades and tones...
I love the raised textural qualities of crewel work. Each leaf leaps off the rich burgundy ground and gives it already a realistic feel. I'll keep posting updates as progress continues!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Carrot Beet Cake

  Summer time so far means beets beets and more beets every week! Now I like a simple sauteed root, and creamed greens with my dinner; but when you're overwhelmed with veggies you must get creative!

I started with crushed pineapple, and shredded carrots and beets. Added walnuts and brown sugar, eggs and flour. Except the eggs this is a copy of a vegan carrot cake I made when I worked a bakery job. (Except the beets of course!)

 The dough turned an awesome pink color and acquired a nice beety flavor. At this point someone walked in a ask what the hell it was... this, in my book, is a sign of good culinary experimentation.

 I baked the batter in a bundt pan. Just say that a few times for fun. Bundt. Bundt! The joy of a bundt pan is the center hole allowing for even cooking. With a thick batter you don't want to end up with a gooey center and burnt top.  Plus it makes those nice fluted edges...

 Which are perfect for that 50's Betty Crocker Cookbook look. I used leftover coconut icing and it even dripped down the sides of the still warm cake. So that's how they get that look! The photo makes it seem like a strangely large doughnut.
And then we place it in this exceptionally shiny fancy ass vintage cake carrier. It even says "Cake" on it, in case you were unsure where you had left the damn thing. "Oh look! It's a cake! I forgot I made one..."

This cake was for a birthday get together of a friend, so most of it was devoured by ravenous friends at the local amusement park. A good end for it! Another way to make veggies a sweet thing...

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Fire Relief

Last night the Denver area was blessed with cooling soothing rain almost all night! With a number of dangerous fires still burning thru out the state it is a welcome help. Here's two other local forces offering fire relief!

Hip Violet makes wonderful and very functional baby products with adorable critters on them! For the rest of the month Jesi is donating %20 of her sales to local organizations helping out fire victims and firefighters.

Fort Collins group A Monster to Love is always in the business of charitable giving - for each critter sold they donate another to a child who needs some comfort. They are currently producing 200 monsters to distribute via Red Cross grief counselors. Today at Mama Said Sew in Fort Collins and Tomorrow at Fancy Tiger in Denver dozens of volunteers will help create lovable monsters.

Check out all these folks and see if you can't buy something, your purchase will net you cool stuff and help people who have been hit by this summer's raging wildfires.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Quilt Time

 I've been cutting and piecing a singleton scrap quilt for more than a year now. I finally found enough different fabrics to complete 140 five inch squares with each fabric being used only once for each shape. Yes, I spent a lot of time staring at almost identical solids...

I cleared out the living room so I could lay out the squares, but only after the cats had inspected the work space.
 This is what a fabric rainbow looks like! 14 rows of 10 squares each with the colors gradating as best I can. I also had to keep fussing with it to make sure pieces of the same fabric weren't next to each other.
 Here's Count Von Gingerpaws inspecting my work. Pay no mind to the sneer, nothing is ever good enough for him. *sigh*

I carefully stacked each row in order to prepare for sewing. I had cut strips of white and cream colored fabric scraps to space each square, so each row was sewn into a long strip.

Then to go between each of these long row I sewed every single white scrap I could find in the craft room into a 32 yard long strip. This will be tricky to get straight between the rows, but it is the most efficient use of the fabric.

I then ran out of all desire to keep sewing and stuffed the project away for another day. It's hot in this house yaknow! Progress...

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Fancy Cake!

Ok, it's fancy cake show off time! Every once in a long while I wake up and decide I'm Martha Stewart and I need to make an excessively intricate baked good. I could spend that time cleaning the house or crafting or something useful, but no I needed to make a lavender lemon cake... I guess I only inherited half of the good housewife genes.

This is an old set of pans from my folks house, I think they had been used about three times. I remember making a checkerboard cake once in middle school, back when free time was easy to come by. I never had that awesome grandma hairstyle tho, I wasn't that cool in middle school (sarcasm).

I followed the recipe on the back of the box, except instead of chocolate I made lavender and lemon flavors. A nice flavor combo and lovely colors too! It should be noted that most of the "old family recipes" were cut out of boxes and magazines, we've never been one for cookbooks around here.

I made one half into lemon cake with juice and zest from two lemons, I added a little color to brighten it up. The lavender is just dried flowers and purple food coloring. In the future I might use an infusion and try to let the flowers offer up all the color, or I might just want it to be scary artificial bright.

 The plastic divider makes the checkerboard magic happen. As you painfully drop each spoonful of batter in a agonize over weather or not there will be enough for all three rounds the plastic bit keeps everything sequestered. You then pull it up carefully and hope you have all three parts at about the same height. I didn't, whatever. No cake is perfect!

 The three bullseyes sitting around cooling. The three pans barely fit in my oven all at the same time, but rotating in the middle of baking kept them from cooking unevenly. Taking this picture made me realize how filthy my kitchen is. Cooking show this is not...

 The icing was an "interesting" problem. I bought coconut milk to make it with for a yummy coconut flavor. Usually the fat rises to the top of the can and I can scoop it off like shortening. This can was a wetter squishy milk. I poured in the thick stuff on top and added some butter to give it body. I then proceeded to use the entire bag of powdered sugar to get it thick. That didn't work, so I put half of it into the fridge to "glaze" things with and started adding flour. What? It worked! I finally for the icing thick enough to put on a cake.

So I started putting the cake together. The first two slabs went fairly smoothly, then of course the top fell into three pieces and had to be scraped from the pan. Icing to the rescue...

I covered the cake in a thick layer of icing and sprinkled the top with coconut. If you ever wondered why commercial cakes have so much icing - it's to cover up the imperfections. you can start with a light layer then freeze the cake, then make it look perfect, but in theory I'm on a diet. (shut up, cake it totally ok diet food, I'm eating salad the rest of the day.)
There, it's a checkerboard, I promise. Yes I took the photo with the crumbling side away from the camera, in this shot you can see the carnage. The white icing sets off the bright colors and... who am I kidding it looks a little less than stellar, the box always lies! But fuck it, it's ridiculously yummy.
See, a pile of multi-colored goodness. This isn't the Food Network people, this is my hot and not-very-clean kitchen. And I've licked so much icing off bowls and beaters I need to go lay down now...

What summer treats are you making?

Monday, July 2, 2012

Welcome to July

I woke up to being featured in this lovely treasury today! Go check out all the cool stuff (like that yarn!) and give some love to The curator JCBStudio