Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Quick Project Update

I bought my first official tool toward my goal of woodworking on my own more. You guessed it…it was a biscuit joiner. As luck would have it, I found a used one at the Habitat resale store for cheap.

I now have two frames in production. Here is the second one, which needs painting:

Jonathan is finally excited about what I'm doing and is on board with helping me. My dried sea fan arrived and I couldn't be happier with it. I'm ordering a few more, in fact.

I got glass put in the first frame I constructed. Now I just need to build a shadow box for the coral to finish it. I can't wait to post a picture of the finished product! I'm researching the best way to sell these since this is uncharted territory for me. Message me if you have any suggestions!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Biscuit Joiner Reunion!

My parents finally came for a visit this weekend! You know what that means...

I put my dad to work. But first I let him get some quality snuggles with the gal who ran around behind him all weekend saying "Papa."

I'm super sad to realize no one got a picture of Meme with her Nora :-( That just means we need to get together again soon.

Here is the frame I made (with help!) all properly joined.

Here are the biscuits:

Here's my dad marking the boards so we could line up the cuts.

Biscuit joiner in action:

Here are what the ends look like before we added wood glue:

We didn't have clamps so we cinched the boards together with--you guessed it--duct tape.

Still waiting for the coral to arrive. When it does, you will see the next phase of this project.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Dried Coral & Wooden Spools

Today was a loooong Monday. The highlight of my day was my email confirmation that the black sea fan I ordered on Etsy this weekend had shipped.

Picture it:


My homemade frame

Well, if you can't picture it, you simply must wait for the finished piece!!! Eeeee! I got inspired at Scott's Antique Mart this past weekend. 

Speaking of Scott's, they had some awesome (albeit mostly overpriced) stuff! And picking through the boneyard outside for parts was FABULOUS. Rick, my father-in-law, even bought me these wooden spools. I'm still trying to decide just how I'm going to use them.

Bookends? Wine rack? Coat rack?? If you have any ideas, do share! I have a much bigger project lined up involving MUCH bigger spools...

My parents are coming up this weekend and my dad is bringing his biscuit joiner. I will finally get to make my frames from repurposed barn wood. And Jonathan and I may con my dad into some home repairs while he's here. Yipee!

Have a great week everyone. And stay off the icy roads (boo, hiss!).

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Dean's Beans

You know what is better than a cup of fresh ground Ethiopian coffee?………..……….

Still waiting………

That's right. Absolutely nothing — ok, except maybe Blue Mountain coffee...and then only if you're drinking it in on a beach in Jamaica.

Coffee gets me through parenthood with my precious diva child. It's getting me through this dark, cold, lethargic winter. It got me through my previous, 6-year career as a crime reporter (although I must admit, I came to coffee as therapy late in my career at the newspaper).

If my house were on fire, I would probably run out with my coffee bean grinder (after all, the next few days would be extra challenging without my beloved coffee!). Full disclaimer, though, we got a Keurig for Christmas. We wanted the convenience. But, you do sadly sacrifice superior tasting coffee. Every once in a while we plug in Old Faithful (our Cuisinart coffee maker) and brew a real pot of coffee. It's always worth the effort.

Jonathan and I love my brother and sister-in-law. Thomas & Felicia really get us. That's why EVERY special occasion that calls for gifts, we get Dean's Beans from them. We didn't even know about this product until them — and for that we owe them a huge debt of gratitude. They're 100% organic and fair trade. You can order a variety of roasts, blends and flavors. You can even design your own custom blend!!!! You can order coffee from around the world. Dean's Beans only purchases beans from small farmers and cooperatives, largely made up of indigenous peoples working hard to maintain their culture and lifestyles in a hostile world.

There ya go: Caffeine + a hefty dose of goodwill = extra wonderful coffee experience

Treat yourself to a big, warm cup of Dean's Beans coffee, then be sure to write me a thank you note :-)

You're welcome.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Get Your Hummus On

I've wanted to make my own homemade hummus F.O.R.E.V.E.R. I love hummus. It's a super food and it tastes good on everything. Only problem: It's decently expensive in the grocery store. Plus it's just better homemade! I have a hard time paying a lot of money for something that I can easily make. No better day than today to give it a try, I finally realized.

Homemade roasted red pepper hummus:

I think it was a success, too! Jonathan said it was the best hummus he'd ever eaten anywhere. I'll take that as a compliment. And I made it from my own recipe. Below are most of the ingredients:

I made modifications after I took this picture. I didn't use paprika for garnish (you can, if desired) and I added cayenne pepper.


1 roasted red pepper
3 large garlic cloves
1.5 tablespoons EVOO
one 19-ounce can chickpeas, drained
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 tablespoons sesame tahini
3 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin


Prepare pepper by removing stem and seeds. Broil red pepper for 10-12 minutes, or until charred. Set aside to cool. Peel the skin off. I threw about 3/4ths into my food processor.
Add the remaining ingredients and process until mixture is light and fluffy. Enjoy with veggies, warm pita, on a wrap, or whatever else you can think of! 

I will be doing another batch soon. If you have a great hummus recipe, do share!!!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Scrummy Lemon Loaf

I'm not fun to be around during the winter. Just this week, my dear husband described me as "winter stricken." But, this winter I've found a remedy for my winter blues — baking! It's therapy for me and a treat for my family (it's how I beg their forgiveness). Before Nora, baking just meant whipping up something fattening and delicious. Now, I'm on the hunt for healthy, kid-friendly fare.

Now for a tangent: I married into an Italian family. I'm convinced my Nonna will live forever. And I think it's because 1) Italians are feisty and 2) they eat (and drink) wonderfully! This lady wouldn't give me a Tylenol while I was pregnant, but she'd pour me a glass of wine. That's another tangent. I'm pretty sure 99% of her food is cooked with garlic and EVOO. Nobody cooks like my Nonna. I need to spend a week with her learning her Master Jedi ways.

Today, I decided to make a lemon loaf merely because 1) I was craving lemons and 2) the recipe called for olive oil instead of butter. It even has greek yogurt in it. Not to mention fresh squeezed lemon juice. You practically have to call this health food. And it was scrummy (scrumptious + yummy; thank you Schmidt from New Girl).

Check this beauty out:

I found this recipe here! Oh, and I used very little of the glaze on top because I found the loaf to be sweet enough. I'm going to keep tweaking this recipe to make it my own. And with my recent fascination with chia seeds and coconut oil, don't be surprised if ALL of my baked goods from here on out contain one or both of these magical ingredients. Then maybe I'll survive this winter and stick around as long as Nonna has!

Please feel free to send me your favorite recipes for baked goods — lemon or otherwise!