Way back machine….May edition

Here’s what I was working on for the great craft a week project during the month of May in 2013!

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The week of May 5th I made these cute lace wrapped glass jars that I had just hanging around. I used lace patterned tape that I found on Amazon
The next week I filled them with flavored sugars.
Then I made the cute tags to identify them so I could give them away. Weak, I know, but work with me here….there was a lot going on that month.

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The week of May 26th I framed two of my mother’s brooches from Nantucket. One for me and one for my sister. Pinterest inspiration here.

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And then just in time for the start of summer, I made a new wreath for our front door!

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Inspiration also from Pinterest

Just a note…

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One morning last week I went to jot a grocery list, or write down a phone number or something and found myself without a single, solitary piece of scrap or note paper. How could this happen? In the same seven day stretch I also disconcertingly found the pantry devoid of spaghetti. How could this happen? It happened because I didn’t have a grocery list on note paper in perpetual use….but I digress.

So last night, with the Red Sox / Braves game in the background, I whipped up a few pads of paper to leave in all the important places in the house. My BFF, L, taught me how to make personalized notepads a few years ago following a class she took in book binding. Here’s what you need:

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First, you need to design your paper pads using Publisher or another software tool on your PC or Mac. You can insert a favorite picture you took, or a graphic or even an image that you scanned (give credit where credit is due). You can lay them out in long skinny notes or 4 up, which is 4.25″ x 5.5″ in size. You can even do a whole sheet of paper!

Once you have all your sheets together, make sure all pages are facing in the same direction.

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Then you cut. Now the best way to do this is to put a piece of cardboard after about 25 pages of your paper and then take it to your local Kinko’s or Staples and have them make the cuts with their giant scimitar. But tonite I just used my trusty Purple Cow paper cutter.

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I got the pages cut into 4 pieces each and then stacked them. Then I scored and cut the cardboard backs to match the pads.

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Then you make sure the top edges are all even using a flat surface to shuffle against. Once you are sure the top is even, clip both sides using large binder clips. Did you make sure the top is even? Good. How about the clips? Are they tight? Good.

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Then you brush the bindy glue onto the top of the pad and let it dry overnite. It will dry clear, no fear. After a few hours you will have a big set of notepads that look like this!

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Crab shooters…the appetizer

The Hubs and I hosted a little beginning of summer party on Sunday at our house. I made some old favorites (grilled salmon and burgers) but also tried some new items that I hadn’t made before and the next couple of weeks, I’ll highlight some of the food we had at the pahty. That’s Boston for party.

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First up, I made some easy, peasy crabmeat shooters. I had a couple of cans of crabmeat in the fridge. (Because that’s the kind of cook I am…never know when you are going to make crab cakes…) You have to really squeeze the meat good to get rid of extra moisture. I mixed in some mayo and lemon pepper for seasoning. I added a slice of avocado to each glass and garnished with a little candied orange peel.

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Just a note on prepping avocado so it doesn’t turn brown. I read a great article recently, can’t remember where, that in order to keep avocado green while you are prepping it, you have to keep oxygen away from it. Easiest way to do that is to submerge it in water! Works like a charm!

A taste of Tuscany …right in your kitchen

Honestly I’ve been making bruschetta so long, I don’t even remember where I got my “recipe”, a term I use very loosely.
When I worked in catering we used to make this with cheese and chicken, or was that crostini? Anyway..
Start with either cherry, grape or Campari size tomatoes. In the late summer you can use the ones you are growing in your garden or in pots on your fire escape, balcony or deck, and it will be extra delicious. Or you can buy them at a farmer’s market, but do all you can to use fresh, locally grown!

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The rest of the ingredients you need are right in your pantry. Some good EVOO, a dash of balsamic vinegar, fresh ground sea salt and fresh ground pepper, and…drum roll…basil and garlic!

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These frozen cubes of basil and garlic by Dorot can be found at Trader Joe’s and some other markets, and if it is summer and I have fresh basil, I will use it. But the cubes are just so darn handy!

Experiment with the ratios that you like, but you can’t mess it up! Grill some sliced French or Italian bread and pile this on! It is the taste of pure summer, long twilight, warm sun, and fresh ingredients. Simple and satisfying.

Hiatus

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I took a little hiatus over the weekend; actually it’s been a whole seven days since my last episode. Sorry ’bout that. I’ll be back later tonite and during the week with lots of new posts. I’m trying to map out my writing a week at a time so I don’t have any holy moly moments when I look at the calendar! Stay tuned…

A new favorite to share!

Look for this in your grocer’s pre bagged salad section!

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Great mix of crunchy goodness including the superfood, Kale. Terrific dressing, and sunflower seeds add nice salt flavor. I think I might add some dried cranberries on the next go round. You could make this, but it’s just so stinkin convenient this way!

Cactus Flower

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A very long time ago, when I was young…very young, my aunt purchased a Christmas cactus for her mother, my Nana.
Nana kept that cactus going, growing and green for a long time. It had pride of place in the dining room window, where the light was filtered by Nana’s lace curtains. After Nana died, my aunt took the cactus to her house. The cactus thrived in her house also and grew to be quite large. In the summer, my aunt would put what was, by now, a quite large pot and cactus on her front stoop.
At some point I asked for a cutting from the cactus, and got one in a lovely pot from my aunt, which promptly turned up its’ toes and died. The plant here is the second attempt of a cutting and this one has done very well. It is now about 15 years old, a perky teenager of a plant, living in our front living room window, where the light is filtered by lace curtains.
Some things are classic.

What to do with…?

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First in a random series of what to make with odds and ends of leftovers and scraps of food

I cleaned the freezer today and found 3/4 of a loaf of Italian bread from God only knows when. What to do, what to do?

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The answer was panzanella or bread salad. Once it was thawed I sniffed the loaf to make sure it wasn’t freezer burned and then sliced it about 3/4 inch thick. I tossed the slices with some olive oil and fired up the grill for just long enough to put a nice char on the slices. Then I cut the bread slices into cubes and tossed them in my giant stainless mixing bowl with more olive oil and about a tablespoon of red wine vinegar. I added baby kale, minced garlic, basil, sliced cherry tomatoes, capers and at the very last minute before service, I added some shavings of ricotta salata cheese.

If you’ve never used ricotta salata cheese, it’s a very mild semi soft cheese like Cotija or farmer cheese, and it is a great cheese to use in salads. Very light and fresh. You should be able to find it in your grocer’s cheese crib.

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The rest of my finds while cleaning were not put to use in the same productive manner as the bread. Most of the discards were not identifiable as anything, so out they went. I was really appalled however to see a piece of bluefish (my favorite oily fish) from 2009. Ugh. I have to do better.

Light my fire

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Now that our outdoor living room is open for the season, we are getting ready to fire up the outdoor fireplace. We use a combination of a little wood kindling, some presto logs, and some imported Irish turf briquettes. Turf was the traditional fuel of Irish homes for centuries and if you visit Ireland you can smell it in the air and see it being cut in the fields all over the country. Central heating is more widely found than even a generation ago in Ireland, but you can still find turf everywhere in the country. Too bad there is such a debate raging in the last year about turf cutting.

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First, the turf is cut into bricks in the bog.

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Then it is stacked to dry by the side of the bog. Then it’s collected and burned in the home hearth.

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And thanks to the internet, express shipping, Amazon Prime, and modern turf harvesting, we get a little peaty smoke and homey warmth on our patio, and delivered right to our front door!

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Dear Santa

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I walked by this little Irish cottage on our pilgrimage the first time and then saw it on my second pass. It is the cutest thing I saw this weekend, and would make a nifty addition to my patio garden. It could also be the centerpiece of my St. Patrick’s day table with some votives inside! And I also want to point out that it could be a three season accessory because I would place it under my Christmas tree and put a little tiny wreath on the door and a tiny light in the window!