Friday, December 17, 2010

ceramics with a side of screen printing

when i was in high school, i used to be in ceramics class and LOVED every minute of it-i was pretty good on the wheel and made a number of cups, bowls and art work depicting the funny inside jokes i had with my friends...such good memories.
over the years, i have been wanting to go back into the studio, but either had zero time, scheduling conflict or no money for classes.

(kombucha on tap with Mark-a quick drink before class)

my friends at Avanti Cafe have been trying to get me into their ceramics class in Huntington Beach which is very affordable and if i just rearrange my schedule, i could do it.  after a year of asking me,  i finally got my act together and started taking classes every tuesday for the past few months.
Our instructor Matt is a super nice fellow who teaches computer art stuffs, ceramics and painting/drawing...really funny and one day had scissors screened onto his pants, when i asked where he got them he replied, "i screen printed them in the next room".

Matt recently made me a screen of a mason jar, and last week showed Mark and I what to do with it....

(attaching the screen)

(Mark spreading fabric ink over the mason jar screen)

(the original drawing-turned into screen-into cuteness on a dress!)

(Matt explaining to Mark about photoshop for his screen)

i brought in a few items that had stains on them o i could cover them up with cute mason jars!

(already wore this to work!) 

(going to wear this to work!)
next up: Backyard In A Jar aprons, tea towels and Road Less Traveled staff tees and other merch! Coming in 2011

and i do do ceramics in this class :)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

CSA cooking: moroccan-style lentil soup

basket inventory: lettuces, dandelion greens, limes, orange, cilantro, celery, carrots, spaghetti squash, guava, sprouts

I used to make this yummy vegan soup all the time and the cilantro in the basket was the perfect opportunity to make it again. this makes a good deal of coup so it is great for a party!

  • 1 lg onion sliced thin
  • bunch of carrots, chopped
  • 1 stack celery, chopped
  • 3 T chopped parsley
  • olive oil
  • seasonings: 1t pepper, salt and tumeric each, 1/8t cinnamon, dash of cayenne 
  • 28 oz can of crushed toms
  • that can of toms filled with water or stock x 2 1/2
  • 1c dried lentils
  • 2T chopped cilantro
  • 1T tom paste
  • lemon
Saute the onion, carrots and celery in a stock pot until the onions have browned a little, add the parsley and seasonings and mix well.  add the lentils, toms, water/stock and bring to a boil. cover and simmer for 20-30 min or until the lentils are done. add the rest and season to taste.  garnish with lemon slices or juice some in.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

cheap ways to stay warm

Our little apartment homestead is located in a 1907 farmhouse that has been cut up into a few apartments with lots of character and cuteness abound. What we don't have in our place is decent in those days didn't have double-pane windows, foam insulation or some of the other cool things that are out on the market.
We do have a heater, but i must admit, i am a little scared to use it...

(if you know how to fix this, come on over-i will pay you back in jam!)

I am a spoiled Southern Californian-I know that already, but i am telling you it has been seriously COLD a few nights (like 30 degrees!!) and I have to wear 2 pairs of leggings, fuzzy socks, and a long scarf that i wrap around my neck and then over my head...and i sleep with all of this on hugging Marge for warmth.
Part of the problem with our house being so cold is that the windows are not the best (but they look cute!) and each of our doors have HUGE gaps on the bottom.

(the kitchen-you should see the other door!)

Our wonderful neighbor Lea saw us freezing our a$$es off and she made these cute draft dodgers for us-her place is covered in them, she even has them on the windows-believe me this simple project made a huge difference.

(check out the FABRIC!!!)

(Lea's window-cute right!)
Our other neighbors Jack and August also gave us this great heater (about $30 @ your local hardware store) and we set it up by the living room door so if any cold air came in, it got zapped with the heater.  The oil-filled heater is actually pretty great-it is inexpensive, uses little energy (compared to some of the electric ones-they end up costing you big time), you can roll it around easily (i have it right in front of me when at my desk), and having one at each entrance of our living room heats our home nicely.

I am going to do a you-tube of Lea making a draft dodger next week, but in the meantime, here are 2 links to making one of your own.
of course Martha making a draft dodger-and it probably matches everything!
Simple Green Frugal Co-op's version

ABOUT OIL-FILLED HEATERS: according to one site, the oil never needs to be replaced.  If your heater is no longer working, there might have been a leak in the heater.  the link above also has a number of heaters to choose from.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Dear Santa....

Leave it to a work-a-holic to see Christmas and New Year's as a to-do list.
I am not sorry about though, New Year's is all about planning and seeing what i want to do in the coming year and Christmas is asking for things so i can do some of that stuff after New Year's...makes sense to me!
(KitchenAid mixy-do)-i want to make more bread.

(pasta do-hicky)-see bread reason
(juicer-deal)-i have been wanting one of these for years, we juice dozens of citrus a week, can you believe we do this all by hand??

(cheese making stuff)-i have been making simple cheeses but now its time to really make some cheese!!

(shoes)-i love these super cute Coach shoes...yes i know they are leather but i wear these things for YEARS and they look good with just about everything. they kind of remind me of school teacher shoes.

(Cuisinart)-i have had a blender/cuisinart deal for 10 years, and it is so beyond getto that i have to put a pillow over it when i turn it on-it is that loud. time for a new one (i am really hoping for this, i cannot bear to make pesto in that thing again).
(book)-Cory, who teaches the bread classes here at the shop brought this book over a while ago-it has EVERYTHING that you need to know about food, a total encyclopedia and is great for further learning.

(little table)-Coleman makes these UBER-cute tables that pack into a suitcase, perfect for the Jam Van (wait i havent even talked about that have i??)

i also want more ceramic classes-wait i haven't talked about that either...eek, i know i have been behind on the do you get a Christmas gift for doing more blog posts??

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Steve Buscemi & kitchen crap: why I love Boardwalk Empire

(hot and hotter)

Last week we saw the season finale of HBO's latest series, Boardwalk Empire a drama set in 1920s Prohibition-era Atlantic City. I really like this show, and not just for the Buscemi-factor (huge crushers!!)-it has been a staple Sunday night TV event for our little neighborhood since True Blood ended.
Maybe it is my whole fascination with food preservation-aka what peeps did a lot of during this time as well as my love for old-school kitchen and home items (127 yard sale anyone?), but Boardwalk Empire is very much playing into the Mad Men-style of incorporating period pieces. Not a show goes by without gorgeous 1920 dresses (already looking for outfits!), the wonderful billboards/branding ideas and entertainment venues/acts seen on the show, BUT I have taken note of the attention to kitchen and home goods that the show stages.
Women were by and large homemakers during this time and they made every use of food-the Trader Joes/Whole Foods/even a fridge was not commonplace during this time. People really had to, "make do with what they had" and it was the women who made up America's great fabric that made sure that the family/people could eat. Boardwalk Empire touches on this idea and the topic of how people eat every so often throughout its first season...this is what i noticed:

(Tin Man-love this character...and check out the pickled eggs in back of him!!)

Probably one of the first things that made me want to create this post were the pickled eggs at the brothel in Chicago. Personally, I am not too into pickled eggs, but i do see a SERIOUS comeback this coming year. I have 2 similar glass crocks that i bought at Mexican grocery stores that are perfect for juice/punch/fermenting-LOVE and you will see this from the Jam Van in 2011 (see an upcoming post on the Future of Jam).
One episode opened with one of the female characters (Margaret Schroeder/Kelly Macdonald) making Irish soda bread, i really loved this scene because she mixed the flour in an old (hopefully vintage!) ceramic mixing bowl with a hand-powered mixer and sifter. Making bread by hand is coming back BIG TIME and the quiet scene of Mrs. Schroeder waking at the break of day to have fresh bread is the touch stone of what you have to do to have "basic" fresh food.

(very much like this-found it on Procks Crocks)

One thing that is present is how people actually COOKED aka, the stove. Like the image below, people has to light under a flat plate looking deal to heat a kettle...

 A few times during the season, characters had to make eggs or other items. Cast iron was the norm not the $60-100 + item that we can now buy at our local gourmet supply store. I am a BIG fan of the cast iron and i toast all bread and other goodness straight from the pan-no toaster needed-plus it looks timeless like the little black dress...
(image from Cast Iron Cooking)

(this is just a pickling crock that i saw in the background of an episode-SO needed for old school fermentation)
 I recently heard that Boardwalk will be picked up for a second season so will be posting more on what other cool items i find as well as other preserving items that i see on TV.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

creative x-mas tree alternatives

having a retail shop has its many perks and non. probably the most obvious NON is the fact that the "holidays" has a totally different meaning than most folks. this is my "crunch-time" where i am completely and utterly busy with sales, calls, making product and whatever else. Nov & Dec will see no planning of the feast, decking the halls, writing cards and shopping for gifts (one perk is that i can shop in 2 sec at my store however!) and especially DECORATING. after spending 10 hours decorating the shop for the holidays, i have little time let alone passion for doing the same thing at home.
(it doesn't always have to be this...)

i am probably not alone in this feeling of wanting to do the bare minimum of holiday cheer at the apartment homestead-2010 holiday time seems to have surprised many and the recession doesn't make the best environment for dishing out extra funds for only a few weeks of decor. my neighbor Lea made this TOTALLY AWESOME tree, that sparked this post on creative x-mas tree alternatives:

(a ladder, tinsel and light=SUPER CUTE!)
 (Ready Made has this cute idea in their latest issue)

(cardboard tree-so cute right!)

(Apartment Therapy has this great idea, perfect for the dining table)

(i love this idea from Homemade grits-and you can use your cards for ornaments!)

(another idea for the photographer in the house)
(at the shop i made a tree from discarded drawers and wine crates-star from old frames)

Monday, December 6, 2010

affordable art: blue bicicletta

do you love??
yes i do.

I adore these pieces from Davis, CA artist Nicole Docimo, all in black & white. so clean and simple....they remind me of papercuts that i love so much too.  and as we all know, black & white goes with just about any decor and color scheme too-perfect!
Originals cost around 150 (a deal!), and you can get small and large prints for under 25....but there are also cards (last picture) and these ADORABLE pins that would be cute on a blazer or on your laptop bag.

Blue Bicicletta has prints that focus on the geometric patterns, fun images matched with meaningful phrases and nature (line the food/veggie series)...but there are also a few of these anatomy-type images, like the one below that i really love...maybe it is the biology chica in me.

Don't worry, all this will be coming soon to The Road Less Traveled!!!! we have the pins, holiday cards, posters and even bags that say, "eat well and slowly"-LOVE!!!

You can read about Nicole and Blue Bicicletta  on her blog, where you can see new images and inspiration. 

Friday, December 3, 2010

CSA cooking: easy-peasy roasted squash soup

basket inventory: arugula, dandelion greens, squash, oranges, limes, dill, cilantro, micro radishes, celery, a few different kinds of lettuce, tomatoes

it has been SUPER cold in So Cal, which means in "real world" terms: warmish days with dry-cold-around 40/50 F desert nights...for us this is "almost freezing you a$$ off" weather (it does get a little bit colder). when you live in a 100-year old farmhouse/convert to apt home (heating post coming up!), eating warm foods REALLY helps not only because you are ingesting warm goodness but your kitchen gets a boost of heat from cooking!  i made this soup from saving leftover acorn squashes from the past few weeks for our big ANTM finale (so this will feed 6-8 people).

  • 2 lg squash or 4-6 little acorn dudes, skinned and cut into chunks
  • 1 lg onion chopped
  • 5 cloves smashed
  • 2 T rosemary
  • olive oil
  • 4c veggie or meat stock (or water or water with a big scoop of Better Than Bouillion)
  • salt, pepper or Tabasco or any other seasoning you are a favie of...
  • *opt* TOPPING: arugula/dandie greens, oil and seasoning-SEE NOTE on topping
heat the oven to 400. trim and cube the squash and dress lightly with oil and salt. cover with the rosemary (or thyme or both!). roast for 45min or until the squash can be cut like butta!
in a stockpot, saute the onion and garlic in oil, dump the squash (herbs, oil and all the mess from the pan) into the pot and saute for a few minutes more. add the water/stock.  blend or use immersion blender (new favie) and blend until it is the way you like it (if it gets really thick, add more water/stock). once the consistency you like, season with S&P to taste.
TOPPING: wash and rough chop the greens and with a little oil, saute in a pan (you can add seasoning, but not necessary), until wilted. add to soup- the bitterness of the greens is totally cut by the sweetness of the squash and vice-versa.