Wednesday, August 29, 2012

iPhonography: Life Lately

Hello friends, its been a while! Life's been pretty busy, working at Montessori every day, designing new materials for Travel Study, and even doing some design work for BMW Photography--its been fun! 

Today, unfortunately, I'm out of commission with a fever and sore throat (boo!), so I have a little time to catch up and share some photos from the past week or so. 

George Statzell's Commission ceremony! || Matriculation at VMI || using up the blackberries we picked in some lemon blackberry muffins || Marley is getting so big! || proud of my Navy man || chicken biscuits made from scratch || playing with puppies in Roanoke || taking my paintings off of their stretcher bars for moving || raspberry picking at Hillside Acres

Saturday, August 18, 2012

DIY Felted Elbow Patches


Quite some time ago, I came across a tutorial (somewhere out there!) for felted elbow patches made with needle felting. And I could've kicked myself--how did I not think of this before?! Well I had my mom (an avid knitter and wool spinner) send me some roving and supplies so I could take a shot at it. What a fun and easy project--just pop in a movie and go! 
Want to try it too? Here's how!

--- Felted Elbow Patches ---

You need:
  • Wool Roving (find it at your local knitting store, or check out Amazon)
  • Felting Needle(s) (again, you can find at your local knitting store or Amazon)
  • Foam Block
  • Cookie Cutter or Stencil (whatever shape you like and will fit on the sleeve)
  • Sweater or Cardigan

Put the garment on and, using a pencil, mark the center point of your elbow. 
Cut the foam block down to fit in the sleeve, and then place the stencil over the center mark. The foam is important so you don't felt through to the other side, and so you don't stab yourself as well. Take a section of roving and fill the stencil. I recommend starting with less rather than more--you can always fill in any bare spots later on.
Holding the stencil in place, and starting along the outside edge of the roving, begin felting with the needle. Basically what you're doing is "stabbing" the roving repeatedly, keeping the needle straight up and down. Be careful--these little needles are quite sharp! 

Once you've gotten the roving in place (roving will be loosely attached), you can remove the stencil and continue working. See how fluffy the patch is still? Keep going! The goal is to get the roving flatter and tighter until it becomes...well...felt. 

Keep working away! This is why its nice to sit with a movie while you're felting. Continue to shape the edges to keep them crisp, and if there are any bare spots, just take a little bit of roving and felt it in.
Once the roving is nice and tight, remove the foam block (the patch may stick a bit to the foam, but don't worry, it peels off and it won't damage the patch). 
Repeat on the other sleeve.
Once you're finished, you can spray the patches with water and then iron them to flatten them a little more if you choose.

--- Can you tell I'm so ready for fall? --- 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Recipe: Chocolate Creme Brûlée

Our good friends, the Brotherson's, got us a creme brûlée set for our wedding, and we finally busted out that puppy and made our favorite dessert from Bonefish: Chocolate Creme Brûlée.

And, as promised....

Chocolate Creme Brûlée
from Bon Appetit via Epicurious (with a slight modification)

  • 2 cups whipping cream
  • 2 cups half and half
  • 12 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 8 large egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup plus 8 tablespoons sugar

  • Preheat oven to 300°F. Bring cream and half and half to boil in heavy large saucepan. Reduce heat to low. Add chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth. Remove from heat. Whisk yolks and 1/3 cup sugar in large bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in hot chocolate mixture. Strain.

    Divide custard among eight 3/4-cup custard cups. Place cups in large baking pan. Add enough hot water to pan to come halfway up sides of cups. Bake until custards are set, 40-50 minutes. Remove from water; chill 2 hours. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

    Sprinkle each custard with 1 tablespoon sugar. Using a kitchen torch, caramelize the sugar (if you don't have a kitchen torch, you can use the oven broiler).  Refrigerate until custards are set, 1 to 2 hours. Garnish with fresh whipped cream and chocolate shavings.

    Die of happiness.

    And trust me--you can do this! Its not nearly as hard as it sounds. Really, all it requires is planning ahead for the refrigeration. If you've made gravy before, you can make this!

    Tuesday, August 14, 2012

    What We Make, Part II

    A month ago I did a post called What We Make (check it out--you know you want to), about some of the dishes we make in an effort to eat more produce, make healthier and cheaper substitutions, and waste nothing. Today, I'm back with part II and four more yummy ideas in an attempt to eat better, feel better, and save money!

    I'm sure you're wondering why the heck I'm starting with plain old waffles--especially from a box mix (gasp! says my mother in law). The thing about these waffles is, they're made with coconut oil instead of vegetable oil (per the instructions on the box). I'm sure many of you have heard about the magical powers of coconut oil and have jumped on that bandwagon. Have you tried cooking with it yet? Here's my experience: Its awesome! I've mostly used it in baking, but its great. These waffles turned out fluffier and lighter and had a brighter flavor. Seriously delish. Swap out vegetable oil (or canola or peanut...) for the healthier (and in my opinion, tastier) coconut oil.

    Grilled Tilapia with Roasted Vegetables
    Two things to take away from this meal. First, Joey and I have realized through our effort to eat more produce, that there's really no reason why you can't add vegetables to any meal. Having pasta? add some grilled mushrooms and zucchini. Making fish (or chicken, or pork, or anything..)? Steam some broccoli or asparagus. Shoot, make a quick spinach salad (just salt, pepper, spinach, raspberry vinaigrette, and a little asiago) and add it to your sandwich at lunch. You're automatically getting more nutrients, and the color makes the plate look so much better (remember, you eat with your eyes first!). One reason we like to add veggies to everything is that it allows us to use up extra produce from meals we had earlier in the week, and then we don't throw anything away.
    Second, herbs and spices make a big difference. Its true--you can get so much flavor by ditching the fatty stuff and sticking with seasonings. Some of our favorites are rosemary, garlic (we put it on almost everything!), crushed red pepper, and paprika. Though not an herb or spice, lemon juice is another healthy favorite. 

    Linguine with Asparagus and Mushrooms in a Tomato Cream Sauce
    This meal kind of came out of all three goals (more produce, healthier, and cheaper). Mushrooms were left over from stir fry, and asparagus left over from grilling it with some chicken. I love tomato cream sauces, but I decided to try a healthier and cheaper substitute for cream: plain greek yogurt. The verdict: taste wise, we really liked it. When you mix the yogurt into the tomato sauce, it takes on an appearance similar to ricotta cheese, so it doesn't look like a tomato cream sauce, but its just as tasty. I say, go for it!

    Cherry Tart with Crumb Topping
    We had gone to the farmers market several weeks ago and bought the last carton of sour cherries. And what do you do with sour cherries? Make dessert.
    Part of our goal to eat more produce has included patronizing the farmers markets and local growers. Eating from the farmers market pretty much forces you to eat in season (which is cheaper!), and in our experience, the quality of produce has always been greater than what we would've gotten at the super market. Sometimes the sticker price at the farmers market seems a little higher, but we've noticed that merchants usually give you a discount or are willing to barter. For us, the fifty-or-so cents more is worth it for great quality produce.

    Like last time, if you'd like a specific recipe, just leave a comment below or email me--I'm happy to share! If you click on Food + Recipes on the sidebar, you can find more of our favorite recipes--and keep an eye out for a few more that I'll be posting in the next few days!

    Monday, August 13, 2012

    iPhonography: Life Lately

    Busch Gardens with Alex and Joey's dad || Pho 78 || Georgetown Cupcake disaster (our fault) || Marley is getting so big! || our new fave: Cava Mezze Grill (twice!) || Raspberries and frozen yogurt at Pinkberry - the one that started it all || trip to the DC LDS Temple || beautiful sunset || trying new recipes || wildflowers for the kitchen || we're in love

    Tuesday, August 7, 2012

    Date Night in Lexington

    Friday night, Joey took me out on a hot date in Lexington! I tell ya, I was so excited all day for our date night. There's something about actually saying, hey, we're going on a date tonight, that just makes me all smiles. Shoot--I even did my hair!

    Since we're moving in less than two months, we made a list of all the things we want to do in Lexington before we move, so we decided to knock off two of our items and go to Pure Eats and Sweet Things. Mmmmm, there is nothing like a bacon cheeseburger (made with all local ingredients!) and honeydew ice cream on a summer night!

    And, since I have limited self control when it comes to yummy desserts, we later had homemade chocolate creme brûlée while we watched The Dark Knight, in preparation for seeing The Dark Knight Rises the following evening.

    --And yes, I will be posting the chocolate creme brûlée recipe...

    Hooray for fun dates!

    Wednesday, August 1, 2012

    Death Cab for Cutie Concert

    Months back, Joey and I bought tickets to see one of our favorite bands because we knew if we didn't buy them then, we probably wouldn't go once we were married and had big kid bills to pay. So after months of waiting, we finally headed up to Charlottesville to see Death Cab for Cutie---

    And it was awesome.

    We started our date at Revolutionary Soup, a fun sandwich place at the downtown mall. Boy was it yummy! We shared rosemary potato and lamb curry soups and thai peanut and turkey club wraps. Delish! Plus, they have root beer, which always makes me a happy girl.

    Of course, you have to have dessert after a great meal (no matter how full you are...), so we got some gelato at Splendora's. Their white chocolate lemon gelato is to die for! Mmmmm my mouth is watering just thinking about it....

    And dang, that concert was awesome! While we didn't love the pot smoke and beer getting spilled on our feet by some frat bros next to us, the music was dyn-o-mite. Seriously awesome. We loved that they started with "I Will Follow You Into the Dark", one of our songs, and every song they played was perfection. Man, they sure know how to do it!

    July: Amy & Sarah Visit!

    Better late than never, right?

    Sarah and Amy came to visit us from Ohio for Independence Day! Some of the fun things we did:

    • Blackberry picking at Hillside Acres Farm in Staunton, VA
    • Jam making (with the 16 lbs of blackberries we picked!)
    • River swimming at Ben Salem Wayside
    • America celebrating at VMI with fireworks and funnel cake
    • Ice cream loving at Sweet Things in Lexington, VA
    • Kitten cuddling at the Brandt's so they could meet Marley
    We loved having you two with us!
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