Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Strawberry Pickin' Season

Last week, I went to Sauvie Island with my friend Jenny to pick strawberries! You can also pick other berries, such as raspberries pictured here:

Strawberry fields are a glorious sight.

So many berries, so little time... I believe I picked this one though.

I didn't realize before how labor-intensive strawberry picking is. My back was starting to hurt, so I called it good at four pints.

Here's a view of the farm and market:

Cute signs.

And even cuter: this Boleslawiec rolling pin my mom gave me for my birthday. It's adorable! And because it's stoneware, it rolls really smoothly.

With all these strawberries, I couldn't not make strawberry shortcake. I used a buttermilk biscuit mix from Bob's Red Mill.

Ta-da! The biscuits are done.

The pièce de résistance:

Pug had some too.

Monday, June 28, 2010

A Quilt Fit For A Pug

Even though I've only made napkins and a pillow case so far, I decided to try my hand at a quilt. A small quilt, that is, one the perfect size for a certain somebody... I got a charm pack of Mary Engelbreit fabric and decided on this pattern for my quilt:

Then I stitched the rows together.

Next I made my quilt sandwich: I used pure cotton for the batting, and a different Mary Engelbreit print for the back.

Here's the quilt on my nifty new Ikea craft table (it's from the Vika line).

I made the binding and sewed it onto the quilt. I attempted to miter the corners, which more or less worked.

And technically, I didn't quilt my quilt (this was an experiment that I put together using various books: Whip Up Mini Quilts by Kathreen Ricketson and The Sewing Bible by Ruth Singer), rather I tied my quilt using embroidery thread. I did this last part while enjoying the sunshine outside.

Pug helped himself to the water in my glass.

This is what the back of the quilt looks like:

And here is the finished quilt, modeled by Pug!

I have plans to make more pug quilts. Hopefully this is the first of many!

Friday, June 25, 2010

I Heart Halloumi

Summer has finally come to Portland! On Wednesday, we had our first really nice, warm day. That means two things: basket weaving outside, and grilling! Basket making is a good outdoor activity. You only need a small tub for soaking plus the materials you'll be weaving (in my case, pine needles and raffia) and a needle.

Here's a picture of my pine needle basket in its very humble beginnings. I've worked on it since and it's now about 3 inches wide and two inches high. Pictures of the finished basket will be up hopefully next week.

While I was working on the basket, Pug was nearby sleeping.

Basket weaving's hard on the fingers, so it's good to take a break now and then and do something else. So I fired up the grill and made a grilled salad from 200 Super Salads by Alice Storey. I have a hard time thinking of interesting salads, and this little recipe book has lots of great ideas.

My favorite salad ingredient: grilled halloumi! Let me take a moment here to express my extreme love of halloumi cheese. It is so delicious and wonderful! It's a goat and sheep milk cheese that has a nice chewy, rubbery texture, and is excellent fried. I first learned about it in one of Nigella Lawson's cookbooks and have loved it ever since my first taste.

Pug is fond of halloumi too! He waited very patiently during dinner for a little taste.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A Very Merry Birthday

June is my birthday month, and while my mom was in town visiting us, we spread the celebration over a few days! First item of celebration: cupcakes from Saint Cupcake. I got "peanut butter cookie", Mom got "toasted coconut cream", and we brought home "the big top" (not pictured) for Husband (also not pictured).

Keeping with the cupcake theme, my mom bought a lovely bottle of 2009 malbec mendoza from Cupcake Vineyards. It was very tasty!

One evening for dinner, we went to Alba Osteria. It was our first visit there, and we will surely be going back because the meal ranks as the best one I've had at any Portland restaurant.

For appetizers, we had a salami plate

as well as peppers and albacore. (I don't care for fish so I skipped this one, but was assured it was good.)

Then came our entrees: grilled steak with horseradish for Husband,

tajarin with butter and sage for Mom,

and ricotta gnocchi with leeks and morels for me. Everything was delish, and the gnocchi was heavenly!

Amazingly, we all had room for dessert so we ordered two: a flourless chocolate cake (it was piping hot and had a pudding-like texture)

and cassata cake, which they brought out to us with a candle!
Pug missed out on our wonderful meal at Alba Osteria, but he got tastes of other birthday week desserts, such as peach pie and blueberry shortcake!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Waffles and Roses

My mom was here in Portland visiting us last week, so we had fun doing touristy things. We spent one day going first to the Waffle Window, followed by the Rose Gardens.

What's not to like about a window you walk up to and can order some 20 different waffles from? I got the nutella and banana waffle. Verdict: excellent, but I could do with a lot less whipped cream.

My mom ordered the Fresh Hood Strawberry Waffle, minus the whipped cream. Smart thinking. It was delicious as well.

Post waffles, we headed over to the Portland Rose Gardens (not the Rose Garden where the Blazers hang out and an orange ball is thrown around).

Iceburg floribunda:

My favorite rose of the day: Summer Rainbow.

Paradise, a hybrid tea rose:

Wild Blue Yonder Grandiflora:

We enjoyed walking through the Shakespeare Garden.

If I may borrow from Shakespeare with some artistic license, I think I'd prefer the quote:
Of All Dogs, Methinks A Pug Is Best.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Simple Pleasures: Sewing an Envelope Pillowcase

I spent a very enjoyable morning over at Modern Domestic taking a sewing class! We made envelope pillows, which are fairly simple to make. First I got acquainted with the computerized Bernina sewing machine, which can do all sorts of pretty decorative stitches.

Then it was on to the pillowcase. I chose one fabric for the front, and a different one for the back. I think they're both from the Windham Fabrics Colonial Williamsburg line (the Botanical Collection, one of which is here).

Here's my pillowcase, wrong sides together, before I sewed it up.

I learned a trick for corners, which was to cut little extra arcs out so the pillow corners won't be too bulky when you pull it right-side out.

The best moment of the morning: putting my pillow into the pillowcase. It's so much fun and makes you feel really productive.
Back at home, Pug approved of the new pillow and has plans to get fur all over it asap!