July 30, 2008

Best Recipes

If you're looking for a good cookbook that has a little bit of everything, then you can't go wrong with The New Best Recipe cookbook by the editors of Cook's Illustrated Magazine. Not only does this book have detailed explanations on the hows and whys of every single recipe, but it also contains product reviews for cooking gadgets, tools and ingredients.

I wish I'd purchased this book instead of Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything, since Bittman has some bizarre food preferences (I recall a pasta recipe where he clearly states his dislike of cheese on top of pasta) and he gives sparse prep instructions. The Best Recipe folks might have slightly more demanding recipes, but at least they give you really good reasons why you should do it their way! I may not be learning all the chemistry involved in making muffins, but at least I understand why I'm adding sour cream to them.

Speaking of muffins, these photos are of some blueberry raspberry muffins I made recently after berry-picking on Sauvie Island, here in Portland. I doubled the recipe so I had some muffin mini-loaves and a mini-bundt cake, which all turned out thick, dense and amazing!


July 27, 2008

Girls, Zombies, Mikael Gorbachov

There is a Russian heavy metal band named ANJ that kept trying to befriend me on a social networking site just because I was a fan of Gogol Bordello. I finally broke down and accepted their friend invitation and watched their hit music video, which turned out to be quite entertaining.

The video depicts Mikhail saving busty Russian lasses from green goo-filled zombies, then bringing Levi's and cola to the newly-freed country. It's totally worth watching in HD.



July 25, 2008

Atomic Glassworks

I've admired Atomic Glassworks' fused glass pendants before I was ever making jewelry of my own. Glass artist, Erin Crane, chooses eye-popping colors and applies each bold design by hand through a painstaking process. Last weekend, I was lucky enough to meet Erin in person at the Summer Arts and Crafts Market, where I picked up a shiny gray Sakura blossom pendant!

I'm in the process of overhauling my pendant-making process, and I've turned to Erin to help me learn about the wonderful world of glass fusing. With her help (and a lot of practice!) I hope to make some pretty new things!

Check out Atomic Glassworks' Etsy shop for immediately available designs, or her Myspace page to see more of her previous work. If live in Portland, you should come can see her glassware in person, since the colors and designs are luscious in person!


July 23, 2008

Busy Signals

Today, I've just got news for you, plus a video that makes me laugh out loud no matter how many times I watch it.

I'll be at the Division/Clinton Street Fair this Saturday, so come on by to see some new products: Flight of the Conchords pint glasses, various moustache items, and new designs on soap pumps and oil bottles!!

New fused glass pendants are in the works (as soon as I learn how to cut glass and possibly buy a kiln)! This will mean all new glass colors, but some of the same designs. This is really really exciting!

Still haven't gotten your craft fair fix? I'll be at the PSU Farmer's Market on August 9th until 4pm with other awesome artisans from the PDX Etsy team, and again (the next day!) at Crafty Wonderland on the 10th.

Please enjoy this entertaining video of cats on a treadmill, since it sort of reminds me of my life right now (and it's completely hilarious). If you're having a rough day, watch it a couple times.

If you're in Portland Saturday night and you aren't burned out from working at a Street Fair all day, you MUST go see Girl Talk at the Roseland Theater. If it's anything like this, you won't be sorry.

Mr. Gillis has a new album out, which you can hear on his myspace page and purchase/download for whatever price you think is fair! Make sure to pay at least $5 to get the single-track party mix, or $10 for a physical cd. I'm listening to the tracks right now, and I know what I'll be doing for the rest of the day now! My life just got better. :)


July 21, 2008

Veggie-Beef Stroganoff

I make this all the time, and it's really good! Even my meat-loving husband loves this recipe. It's much easier than it looks--just a little multi-tasking involved. I made it up for the most part, with a little bit of help from an old Pennsylvania Dutch cookbook I have. I think this may actually be a "tetrazzini", but it's good no matter what you call it! Note: if you'd like to make this with real meat, feel free to substitute away! Don't forget to drain your ground beef after cooking it, if that's what you choose.

1/2 oz dried flavorful mushrooms like porcini (use fresh if you can find them!!)
1/2 bag wide egg noodles
1 bag Morningstar Farms Griller Crumbles (or Boca equivalent)
1 shallot (or about 1/4 cup onion, or less), diced finely
1 small/medium clove garlic
3 Tbl. butter
about 1 cup frozen peas (whatever looks good when you're pouring it)
8 oz. sour cream

Put a large pot of water on to boil. Salt the water generously when it comes to a boil, just before adding noodles.

Resuscitate mushrooms by immersing in a bowl of very hot tap water for
about 5-10 minutes, or until soft (not soggy). Drain, rinse any grit
off them, and squeeze water out. Chop and set aside. (I dice these
finely so they aren't chewy and noticeable, but you can cut them
however you'd like.) You can save the water for stock, or pour add it to the boiling water.

Melt the butter in a pan on medium-low. Saute the shallot and garlic
until they are lightly browned. Put butter and shallot/garlic aside in
a bowl. Use the saute pan to heat up the frozen Crumbles on medium
heat with a lid, stirring occasionally. When the Crumbles are heated,
mix in the mushrooms and cook until browned.

Meanwhile, boil the noodles until they're thoroughly cooked but not
soggy--this takes longer than normal pasta. Throw the peas in when the
noodles are almost cooked, so they'll be hot--they don't really need
to cook long. Strain when finished.

Transfer the noodles and peas back to the large pot. Pour the butter,
shallot and garlic over the noodles, then mix in the Crumbles mixture.
Stir in the sour cream. (I tend to buy the 16 oz tub of sour cream,
and sometimes it seems to need a little more than half. Use enough so
that it's creamy and everything is coated thoroughly.) Garnish with
freshly ground pepper.

This is enough for 2 people to share with some leftovers, but I would
double this recipe for 4-6 people. You can always adjust the
ingredient quantities to your tastes, since I don't really measure
anything when I'm cooking this. It would be good with more mushrooms too, if you have them.

[No Meat Magnet courtesy of Sick on Sin]


July 18, 2008

Glass Etching Tutorial

I took some pictures while I made a batch of moustache pieces the other day, and created a tutorial on Flickr! If you've been wondering what my set-up looks like, and how I do my etching with a drill, then you should check it out.

These will be debuting as pins and magnets at the Summer Arts & Crafts Market this Saturday! Come see me (and other PDX Etsy members) at the south park blocks Farmer's Market.

(Sorry about all the watermarks, but I wanted to discourage anyone from stealing my photos without giving me credit.)



July 15, 2008


A while back, I was contacted by a prospective customer who wanted some custom shot glasses made for her. She suggested that we trade for an item in her Etsy shop, so I took a peak. I'm not a big jewelry person, but something about her work caught my eye from the beginning.

Plutostar offers modern jewelry made from sterling silver, copper, and brass, and it's obvious that she has an eye for detail. I was immediately taken by her textured rings, which range in shape from the traditional to the daring.

I eventually (after a lot of indecision) asked her to surprise me with a simple ring that wouldn't be too delicate or girly. The above ring is what she came up with, and I completely love it! It's lightweight, comfortable, and goes with just about everything I own. I couldn't be happier with our trade. It also made a perfect birthday splurge gift for myself!

Although I can't trade for everything, it never hurts to ask. Some sellers thrive on trades, and you might really make someone's day if you offer an exchange. Just be willing to gracefully back down if your offer is declined, since it's never anything personal.

(You can purchase this gorgeous ring for yourself here.)


July 14, 2008

The Capricorns

Rock the Casio keyboards! I first heard their Nintendo-esque songs on my favorite college radio program (Late Risers' Club on WMBR in Cambridge, MA--in case you were interested) about 6 years ago. I called the station a few weeks later to request The New Sound, and the DJ said he'd never heard of them. Huh. That was that.

I couldn't find the Capricorns at any record store, and they seemed to be non-existent on the internet. Just recently, I had the presence of mind to look them up again, and discovered a sadly out-of-date Myspace page, with a broken website link. Luckily, the Myspace page has a bunch of great songs to listen to, even if you can't download them.

listen here:

buy stuff here:
and here: (a Kill Rock Stars comp, which looks extremely promising--I have Fields and Streams and really like it)


July 10, 2008


We'll be at the Mississippi Ave. Street Fair this Saturday, July 12th! Bread and Badger is sharing a booth with Megan of Ta-Dah. She makes those beautiful garden globes made from recycled glass marbles! I'm really excited to be spending the day with another recycled-glass artist, and a fellow member of Trillium Artisans.

It's going to be a gorgeous day here in Portland, so stop by our tent on your way to the Rib-Off and Margarita Gardens! There will be lots of other PDX Etsy sellers there as well, so come show your support for handmade goodness!


July 9, 2008

Not Every Project is Destined for Greatness

I made this a while ago, but I thought of it again as I was sewing some pants today. I love Craft: Magazine because of the inspiring projects and diverse artist's stories, but I hadn't ever made anything from its pages before.

I'm not really a sewer, as I prefer to knit or crochet my fabrics. The only clothing I've ever sewn was a pair of hooded capes that I made as a teenager, and I've abandoned my fair share of cross-stitch wall-hangings. I admire embroidery, but I've never had the urge to pick up a tiny needle to attempt it. I usually only use my sewing machine for patching up holes in clothes (like today).

When I adopted my kitten, Rupert, I wanted to make him toys every day. After knitting and crocheting a couple balls that got lost somewhere in the apartment after only a few hours, I wanted to make something a little bigger. Plus, he likes to play rough, and have you seen the price of stuffed animals?? I'd just received some awesome pink fur fabric from a craft swap, and I'd been thinking about the stuffed monster project from Craft for months. Hence, the Pink Man was born.

I did a terrible job with the stitches, which are visible from the outside due to overstuffing, but it's only a cat toy. Rupert, of course, won't touch the thing, even after I stuffed lots of bells inside to catch his attention! I stuffed it with fabric scraps to keep with the recycling concept, and I think maybe the toy is too heavy and stiff for this picky kitty. Ah, well. It was a fun afternoon project! Maybe he'll grow into it. Maybe he's freaked out by Pink Man's eyelessness. Who knows?


July 7, 2008

H.R. Giger Bar

Sometimes, the modern art and design scenes are a little discouraging to me. I don't always understand the meanings behind large-scale installations or performance pieces that are supposed to be profound. "Low-brow equals high-brow" is sometimes completely over my head. What's with people collecting antique milk bottles that have numbers stenciled onto them?

When I hear about something like the H.R. Giger Museum Bar, then all my faith in the design world is restored. Chairs that look like monstrous jawbones, and ceiling arches that look like vertebrae I get. The wall of contorted baby faces speaks to my soul, saying, "This is imagination. This is emotion."

As a bonus, the bar opens at 10am every day of the summer, so I could stop right in during my next trip to Switzerland, without having to adjust to the local time.



July 4, 2008

Moustaches are Everywhere

My husband is growing a moustache for the first time in his life, and this Unnecessary Advertisement made me think of him. If you spend as much time laughing at things on the internet I do, then you'll probably find these Photoshopped "ads" are pretty funny too.

Based on the recent popularity of this facial hair phenomenon, I'm considering etching a curly moustache design onto some pint glasses. I'd love to hear what you think!


July 2, 2008

Flight of the Conchords

Just before I moved across the country, my friends told me about Flight of the Conchords, a tv show on HBO about two guys from New Zealand. They're in a band and they're trying to make it in NYC after losing their passports. Dry comedy ensues!

I was finally able to see the first season on DVD via Netflix last week! The two guys, Bret and Jemaine, are completely charming in their simple naivete. Their songs are fantastically catchy and funny, each one in a different musical style. My husband remarked that their music reminds him of the Magnetic Fields, in that it could be considered "novelty music" for its humor, but is extremely well executed, musically.

To express my adoration for the show, I decided to create a portrait vase of Bret and Jemaine. It's gotten great reviews so far, even from people who'd never heard of the show! I'm so pleased with the way it turned out, I'm already planning my next example hero-worship in vase-form...


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