Monday, February 28, 2005

what's for dinner?

What I'm working on for dinner...
Breaded Zuccini

hurray for hollywood - da da da...

We had a nice little Academy Award viewing party last night. Along with the traditional big bowl of popcorn, I fixed up a few other finger food goodies that kept in theme with the Oscar's.
Starlette Sugar Cookies
Found a wonderful sugar cookie recipe in the fairly new Ruth Reichl Gourmet Cookbook. After these baked, I immediately pressed a small star-shaped cookie cutter into the center of each cookie to leave a small star imprint.
Oscar's Head
Whipped up a batch of sweet corn pudding and filled small ramikins after the pudding had cooked and set. Then I rolled a few balls to place on top of each serving. Sprayed the tops with cooking spray and popped them back into the oven to develop a cripsy coating. Yum!
And The Envelope Please
I cut flour tortillas into small squares using a square-shaped plate as my guide. After exposing each side of the tortilla to heat for a few seconds on a cast iron skillet (to make the tortillas more pliable), I filled each one with Spanish Rice and cheddar cheese, folded the corners over to resemble an envelope, placed seam down on a cookie sheet prepared with cooking spray and baked at 35o degrees for about 20 minutes (just long enough to slightly brown the tortillas and make them crunchy outside). This was a delicious combination of flavors - I was afraid it would be too bland, but it actually wasn't. Next time I might also put some corn, black beans and/or salsa.
Red Carpet Rolled Tacos
I've always found that when making rolled tacos it is important to get the tortilla to filling ratio just right. It helps to cut the tortillas down to a good smaller round - and I know you can buy them small, but I've found that by cutting the edges off, the tortillas seem to bake up flakier (almost feel more like a pastry crust than a tortilla, actually). So I cut the tortillas using a small round plate as a guide, then filled them with shredded chicken and cheddar cheese. Rolled them up tight, placed them seam side down on a sprayed cookie sheet and baked at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. To cook the chicken: I put several boneless breasts (I know boned cooks up juicier, but boneless is what I had) into a cast iron oven along with some vegetable stock and mexican poultry spices. This cooked on the stovetop for about an hour over simmer. The chicken just crumbled to pieces and was very juicy because of the stock. Great flavor too!
The best thing about these recipes is that there was no frying involved. I am as big a fan as any of anything fried - but since the Academy Awards are so long and I knew we would all be grazing as we watched, I didn't want us to feel completely saturated in grease by the time they named Best Picture (and the entire house didn't smell of oil). So these worked out perfectly. I had so much fun making these! This just may become a tradition in our house. I'll have to start thinking up recipes for next year.
Chris Rock rocked!
Jamie Fox made me tear up.
Glad Sideways won something (best adapted screenplay).
Annette Bening shoulda won.
Paul Giamatti shoulda been nominated
(even though I wanted Jamie Fox to win).
and that's about all I have to say for now.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

brush the dust off

Today was cleaning day. Too much clutter! Out with the old clunky furniture, in with the sleak, functional metal. I was feeling completely closed in every time I came into our computer room. Now with some things rearranged and a huge pile of junk to unload I feel like I can sit at this desk and actually breathe.
* a h h h h h h h h h h h *
So that's my work for the day.
Not a whole lot to show for the hours it took me to do this - no one would probably see the difference - but it's a huge improvement to me. Now I actually have a work surface!

Thursday, February 24, 2005

now we're cooking with gas

Actually managed to work today. Hurray! Now have a clear concept developed for a children's easel.



Worked the ideas out through sketching and building this little model. It's easier for me to see things when I've got a 3-dimensional "sketch" to work on alongside my 2-dimensional doodles. This easel here is approximately four feet tall - a nice size for kids. It would accommodate a roll of paper for painting and drawing in addition to having some other functions that are yet to be decided (either magnetic surface, felt board, chalk board or cork board). I like the idea of making this something that even the younger toddlers could use (magnetic, felt or cork) and then eventually graduate to its function as an artistic easel. This would make this an appropriate gift for even a baby shower or first birthday. Trying to be flexible here. I see that as the biggest flaw in a lot of the items available commercially. No flexibility.


Tomorrow I hope to build full scale.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

more ginger ale please!

So I've been down with the flu. A stomach variety - nice. But I managed to sleep for probably 10 hours yesterday and am actually feeling much better today. Just got to take it easy so I keep it under wraps. Thinking that while I'm out on my ginger ale run I'll stop in the craft store and pick up some balsa wood so I can work on models of a few furniture ideas I've been sketching up. I shouldn't be out in the woodshop today, so maybe I'll just put on a favorite movie that I've already seen several dozen times and work on building at the miniature scale. Besides, this will take me back to those good ol' days of architecture school. The thing I enjoyed most about architecture school was building models. Once I finished school and went to work in the real world, building models never factored into the equation. Bummer. So I'll just have to make up excuses to build them myself. I've always thought that if I had a huge chunk of time to throw away I'd like to spend it building a model of our house. This makes a lot of sense, actually, because when I was little all I ever wanted to do was build a doll house (I think I even always told myself that when I grew up I would - I also insisted that when I grew up I would have one entire room dedicated to Barbies, and that hasn't happened - nor has the desire to make it happen) But how insane would that make me to have this little model of our house? With little models of our furniture, all built to scale, so I could rearrange rooms in the model to see how it would look. Yeah, that's getting a bit crazy. Almost as silly as the way I spend my free time drawing up the plans for our house and drawing up renovations/additions I'd do if we ever won the lottery.

Anyway...I need to get my head back in the game today. Got to muddle through this stomach ache and get some work done.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

rainy day weekend

adirondack chair for children
It's hard to get anything done on the weekend.
Need discipline.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

my flo is linoleum!

Well, I didn't work on projects yesterday. I was busy using my few free hours on a job that's been on my mind for months. I started tearing up our awful sheet vinyl kitchen flooring and replaced a small section with vinyl composite tiles. These are essentially linoleum tiles. VCT is the stuff you see on the floor in most grocery stores - but I love it anyway. It's very inexpensive, it holds up a whole lot better than sheet vinyl (which is ALWAYS dirty - regardless of how many hours I waste trying to scrub it), it installs easy easy and when you lay them out in well-thought-out patterns I think it looks pretty darn cool. I'm laying mine out parquet style. This way it doesn't even end up looking like a grocery store floor because it gives it a basket weave look. The most attractive thing about it is that I can install it myself. Bought this cutter that makes trimming down the tiles really easy - and it wasn't very expensive, beats cutting each tile by hand with a utility knife. Since I don't often have a huge chunk of time for working on home projects, this is easy to do in phases. The hardest part about it is pulling up the old flooring. The woman we bought this house from had new sheet vinyl installed three times. Each time, the installer glued it right down on top of the old flooring. So I've got three layers of vinyl to pull up! Doing this in phases will also make it easier to dispose of the old flooring - can throw it in our garbage in batches. But, oh, I can't wait for the entire kitchen to be done. VCT cleans so easily. It's not nearly as absorbant as the sheet vinyl. The other bugger with sheet vinyl is that whenever you lay a rug with any kind of rubber backing, the vinyl eventually yellows with time. UGLY! I honestly don't understand why they still make and sell this stuff. Because it's cheap, I guess. And it comes in all these goddy faux finishes. Flowers and fake wood grain. No thanks. I'd rather my kitchen floor look like the grocery store. There's a reason they use this in grocery stores - it holds up. It's durable, it cleans easily and it doesn't look all that bad. So anyway, that's what I've done with my Friday afternoon.
Today is a very wet, stormy Saturday. Thunder and lightening last night - can't even remember the last time we had a storm like this. Because of the infrequency of thunder and lightening here, it always spooks me out.
So maybe I'll just stay inside and be creative.

Friday, February 18, 2005

promise to myself

To keep the creative juices flowing, I promise this to myself.
I will post something each + every day.
Even if I'm not really sure what I'll do with it, I'll post something about anything I happen to be working on.
This way, no matter what, I'll work on something.
(that's the idea, anyway...let's see if it works)
So here's ellie-fant. Poking around the flowers of the bog. She has friends. They're soon to come. With so much out there in the way of nursery decor and children's themes, I wanted to come up with my own little cast of creatures for individualizing the furniture I build. Sketchbook is full of these little friends - now I just have to bring them to life.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

floating fast

"remember to remember me
standing still
in your past
floating fast
like a hummingbird"



I've been toying with the idea of making mobiles - maybe not even traditional mobiles that attach to the crib, but objects that can be hung from the ceiling above the crib (or changing table or play area or...). Because the mobiles that attach to the crib are really only useful for 9-12 months. After that, they become hazards when an infant who is starting to stand can grab on to them.
The question is...what should the mobile be? I wanted it to be something pulled from nature, something graceful and delicate. Dragonflies have been overdone, in my opinion. How about hummingbirds?

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

let's see how this works out...




Okay, so I've been wasting so much time reading other's musings that I thought I'd start wasting time on my own instead. This will sort of serve as a kind of online sketchbook for tracking the things that inspire me and for documenting the projects I'm working on. My new venture, Out of the Box*California, is beginning to take off and we must work hard to keep it going strong. Our work shall not be for naught!
g o a l s :
1 . hold myself responsible for my hours/days/weeks
2 . take stock of my time
3 . share what makes me smile
t o d o :
1 . stop wasting time
2 . get it together
3 . work on wonderful new projects for Out Of The Box