Sunday, February 27, 2011

Citrus... Citrus... Citrus... Cookies

Sometimes it is hard to keep up with this blog. Not that I dislike it, more that I have so much going on, I don't remember it all by Sunday. I do recall a thing or two, I promise.

  • 1/2 cup butter, at room temperature

  • 1 cup peanut butter

  • 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar

  • 1 egg

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

  • 2 cups flour

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 cup butter, at room temperature

  • 1 cup peanut butter

  • 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar

  • 1 egg

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

  • 2 cups flour

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • This week I focused on cookies, like I said I would.

    I started on Sunday with a peanut butter cookie, not a bad cookie, not that chewy but nice flavor.
    Peanut Butter Cookie
    Adapted from Susann Simpson 
    1/2 cup butter, room temp
    1 cup peanut butter
    1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
    1/2 cup granulated sugar
    1 egg
    1 tsp vanilla
    2 cups flour
    1 tsp baking soda
    1/2 tsp salt

    Cream butter and sugars together, add egg and vanilla. In a separate bowl, mix remaining ingredients together and add to the wet ingredients. Drop by rounded teaspoons onto a parchment lined cookie sheet and press cross marks into cookies with a fork. bake 8 to 10 minutes at 375 degrees.

    Monday I made some lovely crispy-chewy chocolate chip oatmeal cookies

    Chocolate Chip- Oatmeal Cookie
    Adapted from Archie Gubbard
    1/2 cup butter
    1/2 cup brown sugar 
    1/2 cup sugar
    1 egg
    1 Tbsp water
    1 tsp vanilla
    3/4 cup flour
    1/2 tsp baking soda
    1/2 tsp salt
    1 1/2 cup rolled oats
    1 cup chocolate chips

    Cream butter and sugars, add egg and vanilla. Mix dry ingredients and add to wet ingredients. drop by teaspoon onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and bake 12 minutes at 375 degrees

    Tuesday I baked some crispy Meyer lemon and pistachio cookies and they are quite nice.

    Meyer Lemon and Pistachio cookie
    All mine!  
    1 cup butter
    1/2 cup brown sugar
    1/2 cup sugar
    1 egg
    2 Tbsp lemon juice
    2 tsp lemon zest
    2 1/2 cup flour
    1 tsp baking soda
    1/2 salt
    3/4 cup chopped pistachios

    Cream butter and sugars, add egg, lemon juice, and zest. Mix dry ingredients and mix with wet ingredients. Shape into rolls and wrap in wax paper and refrigerate for 2 hours. slice an put on parchment covered cookie sheets and bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees.
    Wednesday I baked Martha Stewart's Double Chocolate Coconut Cookies which were nice, but looked like cowpies.
    I'll just post the link since I didn't adapt it much

    Thursday I finished up with Chocolate Mint Cookies which were chunky and yummy and super chocolatey

    Chocolate Mint Cookies
    Adapted from Samanissa
    • 1 cup cocoa powder
    • 1 cup flour
    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • 1/2 cup brown sugar
    • 1 tsp baking soda
    • 1 tsp baking powder
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 1 cup chopped Andes candies
    • 1 stick melted (unsalted) butter
    • 2 slightly beaten eggs
    • 1 tsp peppermint extract
    Combine in large bowl dry cocoa powder, flour, sugar, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, & salt. Combine and add melted butter, egg and peppermint extract. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop by rounded Tablespoon onto cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes

    So as you can see, it was a definite cookie week. I also completed the work for the exchanges, I just breathed and simplified everything and I think they will still be appreciated. 

    My cousin was given a ton of produce and passed the riches onto me:
    Grapefruits! A whole bag of them!
    Lovely Meyer Lemons!
    So I have a busy week of trying to figure out what to do with them! I'm thinking candied lemon peel, lemon wedges in syrup, and grapefruit segments in syrup.
    Next week I should be able to post the pictures of what I made for the exchanges and hopefully more puppet pictures and some products of all the citrus I received.
    Ta for now!

    Sunday, February 20, 2011

    A Week of Pictures

    I have figured out a bit of what's been holding me back on my craft exchange projects. I have been having ridiculous anxiety about these things and it doesn't make a lot of sense. I want to make these gifts and I like stretching my imagination but I have just been tied up in knots worrying about finishing by the end of the month! I now believe I have set others' expectations of me too high. I doubt people are expecting me to send off handknit sweaters and purses with pockets and zippers and bobbles. I need to dial back my neurosis and go back to the original plan. Small, interesting, and handmade with love. So I'm going back to the drawing board! No elaborate lunch bags that were going to look too feminine anyway, no quilting (as I stink at it), and no working harder on them than I am on my puppets. That's my new rule, my puppets have to come first as they have a lot of problems.
    More on puppets later this week but for now here's my week in pictures:
    Sewing the mouth onto the puppet


    Heads and bodies of two more

    Hi there! 

    I worked on the puppets this week, finished up a little girl puppet that isn't too fantastic, but is fairly cute and made the bodies of two more. This week I doubt I'll get to them, but next week is for the puppets.
    A project in the works (on a sketch)

    Finished project: Fabric Crane hair clips
    Almond blossoms

    Milk! (I don't know why, just felt like taking the picture)

    Drank gallons of tea this weekend
    I declare this upcoming week Cookie Week! I have to bake a bunch of cookies every once in awhile to cleanse my soul...or something. Anyway, I like baking cookies so I'm planning 5 or 6 different kinds for the week. Should be fun.
    I also made bread today. Check out the pics
    The autolyse (pre-rise)

    First proof/ rise

    Second proof


    Yum. Honey Bran Whole Wheat bread.

    Sunday, February 13, 2011

    The week in review

    The almond trees are beginning to flower and it's beautiful. Of course the photo I took shows no flowers at all but I liked this one better.

    I completed nothing this week I'm afraid. I did work on some bits and pieces of a craft exchange I am participating in, but I can't even show you what they are! Bummer for me as it leaves me with no pictures to show of what I've been up to.

    So what I'll have to do is a repeat of a few weeks ago, I'll tell you of my plans for the week!
    First up is those dang puppets. I love them and I think they'll turn out great but I keep dragging my heels on them and I'm running out of time. Not that the gentlemen I send them to are demanding them, but I have been working on these puppets for almost a year and they need to be finished and sent away. I don't wanna look at their faces anymore!

    Second, I am working on more craft exchange bits and pieces and...
    This is all I can show you right now
    It should be good.

    Thirdly and fouthly, I have simple things to churn out, like my curtains for my art room.

    They will look so good in there, I'm just hemming and making a simple tube for the rod and I'm done! Easy as puddin'!
    This is the guy I want to work on next, he's a biker/beatnik dude with a goatee and Elvis hair. I hope I can finish these current ones so I can start on him!

    That's all I have for now, I am hoping to have more to share by the middle of the week. We'll see how the puppets are doing by then.

    Sunday, February 6, 2011

    Weekend of Getting Things Done.

    This was an out of character weekend for me, I must admit. Especially as I have not been feeling too hot the last couple weeks. I take advantage of these high points though, I was incredibly busy.

    Friday I ran errands. First I picked up a really interesting book on lifelike polymer clay figures as a early birthday present from my cousins (Thanks Cathy!) and I have gotten all sorts of excited to start some new sculptures, so that may be the intermingled project with the puppets. I picked up the main fabric for one of my craft exchanges, and I think it'll turn out nice and I can use the prototype for my own use...maybe...I'm not real big on prototypes...I'm not patient enough.

    Saturday, a friend who writes a blog on playwriting and I wagered each other to get a big push of work done in three hours, he was to write ten pages of dialogue, I was to clear my guest room of overflow art supplies. Deadlines are good things. I organized my art room to accommodate all my stuff and while it's cramped, it's not chaotic like it normally is. Going through boxes and boxes of puppet bits, fabric, paint, pencils, papers, canvases, and random nonsense, was enlightening. 
    I have a lot of crap.
    Lots and lots of detritus. bits and bobbles washed up on the shore of Al's life. So many ideas of what to do with it all, and a little knowledge that I have not the time for everything.

    I spent some time rooting around in my jungle of a garden, pulling weeds and thinking about where to put things. Tomatoes (at least the ones I had last year) are banned. Stupid things ate my whole garden up! I do hope to put in plenty of Edamame, and pickling cukes, spread my carpet of strawberry plants out a little so they can breath, and try a few new melons out along with a loofah plant or two.

    Sunday I tackled a project that I am so pleased with. Of course I'm still having a hard time remembering to take the "before" picture, but I am sure you have all seen this type of chair and how ugly it can look. The one I found at a thrift store was tan with chocolate brown cushions. Pukey pukey 70's colors.
    I took apart the cushions from the frame and spray painted the frame with an aquamarine and topped it with a lacquer coating.
    Painted the plastic armrests a dark gray.

    Covered the brown cushions with upholstery fabric I had saved from a failed couch experiment.
    Took the majority of the day waiting for paint to dry, but six p.m. and it's done! it'll look perfect in my art room.

    I also started to hack down an useless almond tree in my yard but I've only got a hatchet and a rusty saw so I'm not getting very far.
    Speaking of DIY projects, my dad sent me this beautiful tea drawer for my birthday.
    Like all the handmade works he has made for me, it has his brand on it. Thank you, it's lovely.

    Well, here comes a new week and I have a lot of options on what to do, but I really want to finish the set of puppets and get started on a few of my craft exchanges. Wish me luck.

    Thursday, February 3, 2011

    Of Puppets and Pickles

    Helmsley minus lips

    I have essentially finished Helmsley. There is, however, a good chance he will never see a stage floor. I am fairly sure I will dismantle him and reuse him for parts, he's just not up to par and I can't imagine sending him away.
    Helmsley's finished face

    Summer's bounty 2010
    I also tried my first jar of pickles from this past good. I thought I was being clever by using Apple cider vinegar since I love the stuff, but it made the pickles sweet and the pickling spices didn't help. All I wanted were some good strong dill pickles, but I suppose I have to have a few failures here and there. Perhaps I will plan out my pickles better this summer, figure out the right way to make koshers, following newer books on preserving pushes towards "gourmet" pickles which are in no way what I want. I want pickles like they keep in huge jars on deli counters, with that great crisp bite. Maybe I'm asking too much. On the upside, my sweet pickle relish is fantastic, it's perfect to add to anything and even though the dice went a little far due to my inexperience with a cuisinart, I like it tons.

    I have started to work on some puppets I started last year, they are a set of four puppets all in the same basic shape. They are smaller than most I have made, but I think they will turn out cute and a nice set. I even used some fabric set aside for a vintage project to make a really cute little dress for one, we will see how they survive.

    I have also started a new project with felt, but as I am using those for part of my craft exchanges, I can't post too much until I send them away.