Blog Archive for February, 2011

The first bolts of the new Anika collection were delivered yesterday, and I am SO EXCITED! It will still be a while before the bulk of the fabric arrives – it has to ship all the way from India and make its way through customs – but I can at least get started working with the fabric, sewing up samples and sending out swatches. What should I make with all of this? Any ideas??

Last weekend was gorgeous here, so Dave and I did some much needed yard work, including pruning the tangerine and orange trees in our back yard. This is the first year that I’ve really been able to appreciate the amazing bounty of these trees, and I am a little overwhelmed! Now that it’s rainy and cold out I’m grateful for the great tubs of sunshine sitting in our kitchen, but I’m at a bit of a loss for what to do with them all. The oranges are really sweet and juicy, so we can squeeze them for orange juice if nothing else, but the tangerines are a little tart. I didn’t realize I needed to thin the fruit, so the tree produced more than it could really support, leaving them a bit small and less sweet. I did some research this morning and came up with a few good ideas, and will list them with some links below. Do you guys have any other ideas? We only harvested a small fraction of what’s on the trees, so I will be doing citrus recipes and projects for some time to come…

1. orange marmalade

2. candied orange peels

3. orange campari sorbet (extra credit when served in 1/2 orange “cups”)

4. fresh orange and yogurt tart

5. spinach, tangerine and goat cheese salad with avocado
This is one Dave and I make occasionally – Just dark leafy greens, 1 avocado, 1 or 2 tangerines (or 1 orange), goat cheese to taste and a balsamic vinaigrette. Good with pecans if you have them, too!

6. tangerineade, vodka optional

In honor of Valentine’s Day, I made a chocolate cake for my chocoholic husband today. The recipe was given to me by a friend of mine, and then modified a bit, and it is one of the most fabulous chocolate cakes I’ve had. Usually, I just dust it with powdered sugar, but this time I made an orange buttercream frosting, and got a bit carried away with the pink food coloring. I added some blossoms from our plum tree for decoration. Here’s the recipe:

6 oz. good-quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 c. flour
1/3 c. unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
2 Tbsp. instant espresso
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temp
1 1/4 c. sour cream (original recipe: 1 cup 1/2&1/2 and 5 oz. cream cheese)
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. Pre-heat oven to 350º. Lightly butter and flour 2 9-inch cake pans (original recipe: bundt pan).

2. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler, stirring until smooth. Turn off heat, but leave in water bath to warm.

3. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, espresso daking soda and salt. Set aside

4. Cream together the butter and sugars with a mixer on high. Then add the eggs, one at a time. Blend in the sour cream. Then, with the mixer on low, mix in the melted chocolate.

5. By hand, fold the flour mixture and chocolate chips into the wet mixture, using a spatula. Don’t over-mix.

6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan(s) and bake for 35-40 minutes (original recipe: 45 minutes, for bundt pan), or until a toothpick comes out clean.

For the buttercream frosting:
1 1/4 cup butter, room temperature
5-6 cups powdered sugar
1 Tbsp. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
juice of 1 orange (about 2 Tbsp.)
food coloring if desired

Since this is Anabelle’s first Valentines Day, I thought it would be nice to make her a valentine that she could keep – or, I guess, we could keep for her. I got inspired by these images of fabric valentines-y things in the French magazine Marie Clair Idées:

from Marie Clair Idées

… So I decided to try to make some quilted Valentines cards. I checked my fabric scrap stash, and found some nice pink prints for Anabelle’s, and some that were a little more masculine to make one for Dave (okay, maybe they’re not masculine, exactly, but it was as close as I could get), as well as some scrap quilt batting.

I cut a cover and an inside layer to 6×8″, and cut the batting to the same size. Then I decorated the front cover (right side of cover fabric) and the inside page (right side of the inside fabric) with scrap hearts, pinked squares and stamped lettering, allowing for a 1/4″ seam allowance around the outer edge.

To make it easy, I used iron-on fusible web, so I didn’t have to stitch everything down, and pinked the applique edges so I didn’t have to finish them.

When I finished decorating, I ironed everything down, added some embroidery stitching and sewed the layers together using the pillowcase method.
To do this I lay the layer of batting on my work table, then I lay the inside layer face up on the batting, and the cover layer face down on top of that. Then I pinned the layers securely and stitched all three together with a 1/4″ seam allowance, leaving a 2-3″ gap for turning on the lower back edge. Once stitched, I trimmed the excess seam allowance, turned the cards right-side-out, hand-stitched the gap closed, and ironed the cards flat. Then I top-stitched a seam at the center where the fold should be.
For Anabelle’s card, I added some silk ribbons as a closure before I stitched the layers together. For Dave’s, I sewed a doubled ribbon to the back and a button to the front after I finished sewing the card.

Wow, Friday seems like a loooong time ago! Last weekend had a lot of living stuffed into it, from seeing my friend’s band play in SF on Friday, to major yard work on Saturday and a trip to the Alameda flea market on Sunday – just before watching the Superbowl in San Rafael with some friends. The weather here was incredible, and the flea market was busier than I remember seeing it, plus the vendors had lots of stuff since a couple of the recent markets were rained out.

We had a list of some things we were looking for, but somehow ended up with a completely different assortment of jun- , I mean, stuff. Not on the list, but still useful! … I think. Here’s what we got:

Several sugar, flour and feed sacks that I’m envisioning as cute, graphic summer tops or dresses for Anabelle, pillows and patches for jeans…

… an ornate, previously gilded frame, now painted white, that I’m planning to turn into jewelry storage central (if it works as planned, I’ll post about that one soon…)

… a lace-trimmed European night shirt, supposedly from the late 1800’s. Hmmm… not really sure what I’m going to do with that. My plan was to shorten it and use it as a summer dress, but it does look distinctively night-shirt-y…

… a pretty blue Mason jar, perfect for pink rununculus….

… and an old watering can, which I saw as charming and rustic at the time, but after using it, suspect it might just be old and leaky. The guy swore it didn’t have any holes, but apparently he hadn’t actually tried using it. Ah, well, maybe it’ll be our version of a pink garden flamingo, sort of rustic garden decor.