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Make Something Monday February 28, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — ravennagirls @ 2:48 pm
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Friends! If you are familiar with a bit of sunshine, the wonderful Rebekah who curates “ten on ten“, then you know she also has a great Monday feature called “Make Something Monday”. Rebekah features a simple and pretty project that can be completed easily over the weekend. She’s had some great projects featured over there, and its a very inspiring space. If you don’t know her blog, hop over there now because she is an inspiring gal!

Well, this week she’s invited us to share a project of our own. Its a great honor to be a part of her other creative projects, and we’re flattered to have a feature over there. We chose our vintage frame jewelry hangers, similar to these in our shop, since we always see them thrifting and want to share how we spiff them up!

Go check it out the full how-to on these frames and stay for awhile on Rebekah’s blog. She is a fellow Seattleite, mom to three ADORABLE kiddos, and has a deep faith and her posts really it home.

 

 

 

A Thursday Chuckle February 24, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — ravennagirls @ 3:56 pm
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Thursdays are tough, eh? Especially when on Wednesday night you had so convinced yourself it would be a snow day, and then you woke up to a measly 2″ and clear roadways. boo.

This nyt article about Nate Berkus decorating Dr. Ruth’s apartment lightened my afternoon. Its both charming and hilarious. Have a read.

Photo credit: New York Times

 

Lemon House Loves: Kitchen Gadgets February 23, 2011

Filed under: shopping — ravennagirls @ 4:38 pm
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Time to start a new feature around here we’re going to call Lemon House Loves.  These are products that we either have, and well, love, or things we’ve spotted around the web that look especially groovy. And who knows, maybe we’ll buy them, try ’em out, and do a follow up review post. We thought it would be fun to share some of the things that we have or would incorporate into the day to day life of our lil bungalow. {Click here for why we call it our lemon house}.

First up: Kitchen gadgets! We both love to cook and of course, eat, so we thought we would share some kitchen items we couldn’t live without and some that caught our eye around the web this week. Since growing season is soon upon us, its fun to think of all the fun things to slice, dice, toss, and cook those beautiful veggies we plan on growing.

Oxo angled measuring cups. The benefit of these is that you can see your liquid measure from above, so you don’t have to do the hold it over your head and guesstimate mode. We have these in a couple different sizes (including the mini one pictured here) and could not live without them now.

Check out these awesomely fun lego utensils! Perfect for snacks and camping!

You know we love making homemade calzones, this calzone mold pops out perfect beauties everytime (we usually just go for the haphazard fork the edges route).yum.

Ever have trouble transferring soups and sauces? These cute and colorful Slip on Pot Pour Spouts are perfect for transfering liquids to smaller jars or dishes! I notice they say for pots with thin rims, though – anyone have a product that fits on Le Creuset?

This fresh herb grinder looks pretty fantastic. We don’t tend to keep our knives sharp enough to do justice to fresh herbs, and this seems like a great solution. I’d love to try it out to see if it does a good job cutting or if it smashes and bruises the herbs easily.

I love our magnetic trivet. As the advertising for it says, “when the pot moves, the trivet rides along”. This is great when you bring the pot right to the table, no more scrambling for a hot pad at family meals. Plus, magnets make storing on the side of the oven SO SUPER EASY.

So thats it for our first Lemon House Loves. What are your favorite gadgets that transform life in your kitchen? We’ve received some of the best tools as gifts or on recommendation from friends and we’re always looking to try new fun things.

{We were not compensated in any way for the products featured in this post, we just wanted to share with you all what gets us excited.}

 

Average Last Frost February 21, 2011

Filed under: garden,Uncategorized — ravennagirls @ 11:17 am
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Bear with me, this is going to be a wordy post. After a full season having a vegetable garden and dealing with one of the crummiest Seattle summers in recent memory, we are spending some time this winter/early spring to do a debrief of how things went in order to determine a strategy for this coming growing season. This post is mostly to sort thoughts and make some plans, so you all might find it completely boring.

We haven’t finalized the list of fruits and veggies we want to grow in 2011, and we need to look at how things went in 2010 to fully decide. Its nice to spend some time thinking of what will pop out of the ground when the sun shines!

Here’s a rundown of last years hits and misses:

1. Raspberries. Awful. We bought some starter plants and waited too long to get in the ground. Not a single leaf grew and we replaced the bed with lettuce.

2. Strawberries. We bought some small starts from the farmer’s market. No fruit the first year, but we think we have successfully over wintered these plants and will get more out of them this season.

3. Snap Peas. These were quite successful and I think we’ll plant more this year. We only planted about 6 seeds last year and our trellis could have been more dense. Maybe a second trellis for a couple other varieties this year?

4. Tomatoes. What a valiant effort. We started them early indoors, but got a grow light on them too late, after they were already spindly little things. We put them outside, and they grew to a significant height but didn’t produce more fruit. Problems were: crappy Seattle summer, not enough light in the backyard, too many plants were overcrowded. This year, we’re pruning the heck out of our backyard to get some more light in there, and we’ll go for quality over quantity in terms of plants.

5. Beets. See above overcrowding. We planted beets right next to the tomatoes, and I think the heavy eating tomato plants sucked all the nutrients out of the soil. The beets didn’t really develop any sizeable roots and we had some problems later in the summer with leaf miners.

6. Leeks. Got muched by Ricky Racoon. All the way down to ground level. Not even worth mentioning.

7. Onions and Shallots. These were both very successful for us and we’ll probably plant a full bed again. We’ve been eating them all winter and they keep so nicely you can never have too many.

8. Cucumbers. Our cucumber crop was great, despite early worries and the crummy weather. Hopefully with a better summer on the horizon we can be even more successful.

9. Potatoes. We had a semi-decent crop of red potatoes. Saw a compact growing trick on the Fiber Farm blog the other day and we’ll be trying this to save some space and get a better harvest.

10. Lettuce, Arugula, Endive. All semi-successful. Will do again, since you can’t go too wrong with the lettuce mixes.

11. Fall Crops: Cabbage, Kale, Chard, Brussel Sprouts, Spinach. Pretty much a big bummer. The Kale did alright, the others, not so much. We had issues with cabbage loopers, and also some very cold temperatures in November which cut off the plants before harvesting.

Overall, the lessons learned ares:

A. We got a start too early last year on some crops and they didn’t develop robust stems and root systems and weren’t as healthy as they could be. PATIENCE is the name of the game (something I constantly struggle with).

B. We need more sun in our garden. The south side of our property is heavily shaded and we need to spend some time thinning that out to get more significant light back there in the spring and summer.

C. Pay better attention to fertilizing. Some of these veggies are hungry little guys and I think we could have more regularly fed them (other than water, of course).

D. Find a solution for pests. This goes for squirrels, racoons, and buggies. We want to keep the garden organic as possible (no one wants to eat or pay for chemicals), but there needs to be a more dedicated effort. Last year it was mostly called hope they stay away. I am going to do some research on companion planting and organic pest solutions to give us a better arsenal.

Whew! We’ll likely be buying some seeds this week or next once we finalize our list, and so I thought the first step would be to address lesson “A” above: Research more on timing.

First, I went to Ed Hume Seeds to check for average last frost information since they are a site dedicated to Pacific Northwest Gardening. The dates they give for Seattle metro are: Average Last Frost (determined from last year): March 22. Safe Date: April 15th. We’re having a less severe winter than “they” predicted, however we had freezing temps several days last week, so we’re not out of the clear yet. For talking purposes we can use April 1st as our target date, and if we have to hold off on planting a week after that, fine.

Next, I went to a link I found last fall that makes a custom Spring Planting Calendar based on date of last frost. You can input whatever your last frost date is, and it will give you a list of milestone dates before and after to keep you on track. Its so handy! So, I put in 4/1 as our average last frost and here’s the outcome:

Eep! Looks like we’re a little bit behind on sowing cool weather crops (spring kale, broccoli, chard, onions, etc.). We’ve been eating a lot of these all winter by virtue of our CSA, so I don’t know how many of these we’ll be pursuing again until next fall. Plus, until we can figure out the cabbage worm problem, they’re a little frustrating for us. Its also about time to sow our tomato seeds indoors (which means we weren’t THAT far off last year).

There is a list of other online calendars in her original post, including one personalized by zip code. The Farmers Almanac link lists the average last frost for Seattle as March 10, but after last year, I’m pretty skeptical of starting that early.

The last question I have for this spring, which will go along with what we decide to plant is how to know whether leftover seeds from last year are viable. There are a couple seed germination tests that sound easy enough, but if we want to get new seeds we need to do it soon, so I am going to look at our seeds and see which might be up for the test and which we will re-buy.

So far the short list is as follows, we’ll update you with what we finally decide to buy and in which form (seed or plant):

Tomato (We might buy starter plants instead of growing from seed)

Lettuce Varieties (Including spinach, arugula, endive, and who knows what else?)

Bok Choy (We have grown to love via our CSA this winter)

Onions

Shallots

Potatoes (Varieties TBD)

Strawberries (overwintered; already in the ground)

Cucumber

Beans and Peas (Varieties TBD)

Beets

Raspberries or Blueberries

Herbs (some have overwintered: rosemary, thyme, need to re-plant basil)

Pumpkins

Anyone have suggestions for veggies we should add or eliminate from this list? Right now its pretty heavy on an August/September harvest so it might be nice to add something a bit earlier.

 

Soupy Sunday: Roasted Garlic Soup February 20, 2011

Filed under: food — ravennagirls @ 5:16 pm
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This soup is for you if:

The cold temperatures are giving you a cold….

You buy enough garlic to feed an army and then attempt to use it before it sprouts…

You just love garlic, like a lot….

Then really you will love this soup as much as we do.  I mean, do people not love roasted garlic???  {if so, why not?  really honestly??  Not judging, just curious!}

To start, you begin by roasting your garlic.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Take 4 whole heads of garlic and peel off some of the paper outer layer.  Don’t peel the cloves.  Slice 1/4″ off the top of ea garlic head.  Place all four heads in a piece of foil in a baking dish.  The cut side should be on top.  You then drizzle about 1 teaspoon of olive oil over each head.  Bake these, uncovered, but slightly wrapped up in the foil for a whole hour.

Your house should now smell heavenly.

Cool slightly, just so you can hold each head comfortably.  Don’t let them get all the way to cool though, or the garlic cloves stubbornly won’t come loose.  Press the whole head with your hand all at once to release the garlic pulp.  Go in there with a chopstick and pry a bit if you need to….

For the rest of the soup you will need:

1 T olive oil

1 c chopped yellow onion

2 stalks celery, chopped

3 1/2 cups chicken stock

1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

1/2 t dried thyme

1 t salt

pepper to taste

1 bay leaf

1/2 cup milk (we used 2%)

grated parmesan for topping

NOW, warm the oil in your big soup pot.  Add the onion and celery and saute until tender.  Then add the garlic!

 

Next, add the stock, beans, thyme, salt, pepper and bay leaf.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium and simmer without covering for 15 minutes.

This is not the most colorful soup… but it is oh-so tasty.

Remove the bay leaf.  Then – Blend in your food processor or with your new immersion stick blender that Santa your little sister got you for Christmas.  Return the soup blended to the pot.  Now add the milk and simmer for another 5 minutes.

Serve, sprinkle some parmesan cheese on top, and eat, preferably with a crusty piece of bread, YUM.

 

Now, I don’t believe that either of us took  this soup to work for lunch like we normally do with our Sunday Soups…. But it sure made terrific dinners on crisp busy weeknights.

: )

 

Recipe adapted from The Big Book of Soups and Stews by Maryana Vollstedt.

 

 

 

Lil Love Monsters February 18, 2011

Filed under: crafty — ravennagirls @ 11:08 am

One day, I was happily reading my google reader.  A bit of sunshine popped up with a new entry and I clicked.  When, what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer homemade fleece love monsters!  How cool! and so CUTE!

Now, I had already been to Joann’s once that week and remembered that fleece and flannel were super discounted… so I went back for some monster specific type fleeces.

Basically I needed two base colors and a bit of white and black for the face.

I didn’t use a pattern or anything…. I just started sketching one day.  I thought about some cool monster features…. Like one eye!  and the babies….  Mainly, how Ethan often smiles SO big, and how Kaylee’s smiles begin on the side of her mouth all slyly.    I think their smiles are both so…. them.

So I sketched a girly monster with longer hair and a Kaylee smile.

And then an Ethan monster with spikey hair and a huge grin.

I scanned the pen sketches and opened them in photoshop, because I am a huge nerd.  The monsters got some color and were then used on the little cards that I made.

One night i sat down with the sketches and the fleece… and well winged it.  Ha.  They came out a teeny bit bigger then I originally wanted, but after seeing them with the babies they seemed to be a good size.  I mean, they are not much smaller then the actual kids themselves so they can’t carry them around just yet….

but eventually….

I’m deeming this my first successful sewing project without a pattern.  : ) Pretty fun!  I as usual, could not have done it without B’s patient help….since me and the needle threading thing are still not usually friends.

To sum up this post….

fleece is easy to sew with and hides user error

monsters are really cute

Monster arms are the perfect size for babies to chomp on

My love for K and E is MONSTERous.  : ) Happy Valentine’s Day & 6 month birthday, darlings.

Being a god-mother is pretty awesome!

Happy Friday, monsters!

 

Monthly Mantel – February February 16, 2011

Filed under: design — ravennagirls @ 1:13 pm
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We have been dying to start a new little post series on RG where we feature our mantel.  We change it often enough, let’s be serious… But we didn’t just want a holiday to be the only reason we show you our mantel.

with pops of color from red tapers, and glowing tea lights in jars….

and these fun “woodland creatures” from the Martha Stewart line at Macy’s.   Most of them I got from my mom for Christmas this year.  They were simply too cute to put away so soon!

{yes, that one is a puffin.  we are aware that in the real world, it does not often hang with moose in the woods.  But Martha has it hanging with the woodland creatures, so why can’t we?}

We have turned the living room  into ‘winter’ wonderland…. So much Christmas stuff really never lets us fully enjoy winter.  The snow, the quiet, the cozy nights by the fire…  This year we put up our winter village on the bookcase.  Brightly colored houses with white roofs keep the outside from looking so dreary…

 

What do you have on your mantel/around the house these days? 

And, speaking of winter…. it looks like we might not be done yet…..

This excites me.  Evening with snow falling in front of the fire…. yes please!     I am skeptical thought, because apparently according to this its raining today… and its actually sunny.  so, who knows….