Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Dalton Ghetti

I saw this post on Design Sponge today and I couldn't not re-post it.

Dalton Ghetti's art is incredible!  I can't believe that someone can create sculptures this small out of something so brittle as pencil lead. He spends anywhere from a few months to a few years creating one tiny sculpture-- with a razor blade and a sewing needle-- and no magnifying glass. A carpenter by trade and artist on the side, Ghetti spends an hour to an hour-and-a-half per day working on a pencil sculpture. Any longer than that, and his eyes get too tired. Take a look and you'll see why.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Quick and Easy #2

This recipe is so flavorful and so quick to make... we love it!

I have never come up with a great creative name for it, so on my weekly meal plan I always call it TJ's Chicken Sausage Pasta. (I usually buy the chicken sausage from Trader Joe's. But what I used in tonight's recipe is actually from Costco, and is just as good).

So here you go!

Total time: 20 min.
Servings: 4

  • 1/2 lb. whole wheat spaghetti
  • 1 package pre-cooked chicken sausage (5-6 links per package) (Try any flavor! The one in tonight's meal was spinach-garlic-asiago cheese from Costco. Trader Joe's has several other flavors as well).
  • Olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder (or more if you love garlic)
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1/2 c. sliced oil-packed sundried tomatoes
  • 1 can artichoke hearts, rinsed, drained, and cut into fourths
  • 2-3 tbsp. pine nuts
  • 2-3 handfuls of spinach leaves
  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • Get the spaghetti started cooking. 
  • Slice the sausage links and saute them with a splash of olive oil plus the onion, garlic, and basil. Saute the sausage until the pieces are browning a just a little.
  • Throw in the sundried tomatoes. Drizzle a little of the oil from the jar of tomatoes into the pan. This adds flavor. 
  • Continue sauteing for 2-3 minutes, and then throw in the artichoke hearts and the pine nuts. If the pan gets dry, drizzle in a little olive oil.
  • Saute for 2-3 minutes more in order to blend the flavors. 
  • Taste and see if you need to add salt and pepper.
  • Just before you are ready to serve, toss in the handfuls of spinach leaves. Saute until they start to wilt and turn bright green. Drizzle with olive oil if the pan gets dry. 
  • Serve on top of the spaghetti! 
  • I usually make a side salad with this dish, which is what I did tonight. 



Saturday, August 21, 2010


This is a large pile of felt.

And I'm going to make stuff with it.

I'll show you when I'm done.


Friday, August 20, 2010

Quick and Easy

Ever since last year's first few weeks of school, I have been planning to rethink my menu choices for the beginning of the school year. Why? Because the first few weeks of school involve long hours in the classroom, and I don't have time to cook a long and involved dinner when I get home.

So I have been planning to compile a list of quick and easy dinner recipes that are good for twelve-hour workdays, and upon the suggestion of a friend (thanks Audra!), I thought I'd share the recipes with all of you.

Cooking from a box makes me depressed, so all of the recipes I will post over the next few weeks are (for the most part) from scratch. I tried to find recipes that don't call for lots of veggies to be chopped up (that's time-consuming) or lots of pots and pans to be used (that creates a hectic, messy kitchen). Also, hopefully you live close to a Trader Joe's because that is my favorite place to buy groceries, so lots of the ingredients in these meals are found there. You'll be able to find the ingredients elsewhere, but it just might be a little bit more expensive (for things like sundried tomatoes and artichoke hearts).

To get us started off, here's a meal that we ate this week that definitely falls into the Quick-and-Easy category.

Parmesan Fish with Asparagus-Cooked-the-Best-Way-I've-Found-Yet and Ciabatta Garlic Bread

Parmesan Fish:

  • 1 fish fillet per person (Recipe calls for catfish, but I used something called basa fish, which is apparently a cousin of the catfish. You could also use cod, sea bass, orange roughy, or something similar)
  • 3/4 c. unseasoned bread crumbs
  • 4 tbs. grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tbs. chopped dried or fresh parsley
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • Paprika
  • 1/3 c. butter, melted
  • In a wide, shallow bowl, combine bread crumbs, Parmesan, parsley, salt, pepper, oregano, basil, and garlic powder. You can increase the amount of the spices if you like stronger flavor (like me). 
  • Dip each fish fillet in butter, then in bread crumb and Parmesan mixture. 
  • Arrange fillets in a baking dish and sprinkle with paprika. If there is any butter left over, drizzle that over the top of the fish, too. (Tip: Before you put the fish into the pan, double-line it with aluminum foil, so when it's time to clean up, all you have to do is throw away the foil. No pan-scrubbing required!)
  • Bake at 375 for 25-30 minutes until fish flakes easily with a fork. 

Ciabatta Garlic Bread:

*Note: I buy a mini par-baked Ciabatta loaf from TJ's for $1.99. It is our favorite bread to have as a side for any meal, and one loaf lasts the two of us two meals. I cut it in half and freeze the other half. 

*Note: Start the garlic bread when the fish has 15 minutes to go.

  • 1 Ciabatta loaf
  • Butter
  • Garlic salt
  • Slice the bread in half vertically.
  • Spread each half with butter.
  • Sprinkle each half with garlic salt.
  • Put the halves back together and stick it in the oven next to the pan of fish when the fish has ten minutes left. (Don't wrap it in foil). When the fish is done, your bread will be hot, soft, and just a little crispy around the edges. YUM. (This bread is seriously like dessert for me).


*Note: The asparagus cooks very quickly, so start this when the fish has just about five minutes to go in the oven. 

  • 1 lb. asparagus
  • 1 tbs. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tbs. Parmesan cheese
  • Salt
  • Trim ends off of asparagus
  • Pour enough water into a wide frying pan to be about 1" deep. Bring water to a boil, and add asparagus. 
  • Most important step: TIME THE ASPARAGUS! If you have nice thin stalks, boil (covered) for only one minute. If your asparagus has thicker stalks, boil (covered) for two minutes. As soon as your timer beeps, turn off the heat and drain the asparagus. 
  • Toss asparagus with lemon juice, olive oil, Parmesan, and salt to taste.

In 25 minutes, you will have a yummy dinner on the table! I'm not a wine connoisseur, but I think some kind of white wine would be really good with this. 

If you try this meal, let me know how it turns out for you!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Fourth Graders

Wellllll.... school starts in a week, and the teachers' meetings started today, so I thought it would be appropriate for a few words of wisdom from last year's fourth graders.

Last year's class always had to tell me about the most minor aches and pains, even though there was nothing I could do about it. Like, all day, every day. I guess they just wanted someone to know about it.

For example: 
Student: "Mrs. Hildebrand, my elbow hurts."
Me: "Ok, why does it hurt?"
Student: "I don't know. It just started hurting."
Me: "Hmm. Ok. Well tell me if it gets worse."
And on with the math lesson.

And so each day went.

Here are some of my favorites.

Complaint #1:
Student raises her hand from back of the room.
I call on her.
Student: "Mrs. Hildebrand, when I scratch my head, little white stuff falls out."
I try not to laugh.
Me: "Well, I think you should tell your mom about that. She'll know what to do."
Student: "Oh. Ok."

Complaint #2:
Student walks up to me.
Student: "Mrs. Hildebrand, my back hurts when I sit down, when I stand up, and when I walk around."
Me: "Ok, well it looks like you only have two options. Either lay down on the floor, or start running in circles around the classroom."
Student, with a confused look on his face: "Ummm, I guess I'll run?"
Me: "No, no, no. I'm just kidding. You'll have to keep sitting down. Just tell me if it gets worse."
Student: "Oh. Ok."

Complaint #3:
Student: "Mrs. Hildebrand, my right foot hurts."
Me: "Oh, why do you think it hurts?"
Student: "Well, I think it's because I woke up late this morning, and when I put my shoes on, I put my own left shoe on, but I put my little brother's left shoe on my right foot and I didn't notice it until I got to school, so now my foot is hurting."
Me: "Hmm, well, I don't think there's anything I can do about that for you. I guess next time make sure you put your own shoes on."
Student: "Oh. Ok."

Eventually, when a kid complained of something I could do nothing about, I just brought out my "magic wand":
Normally used for pointing to things on the whiteboard while keeping kids' attention, it was also useful for curing all aches and pains. As soon as I picked up the magic wand to use on an aching child, he or she was suddenly cured... or maybe just realized the pointlessness of complaining about a hurting pinky toe.

Let the school year begin!

Thursday, August 12, 2010


I think I have hit new heights in adventurous foods. The other night, Adam's intercultural communication class went on a "field trip" to a Chinese seafood restaurant downtown for dinner instead of regular night class. The professor, who is also Chinese, invited everyone to bring their spouses/girlfriends/boyfriends, so I went along. We dined family-style so everyone could try a little bit of everything, and the professor chose a few dishes that were a bit more unusual so we could try those, too.

Well, one of the dishes she ordered for us was a jellyfish, shrimp, and asparagus stir-fry. Jellyfish! It looked fairly tasty-- it was kind of translucent and ruffly-looking, and I do like shrimp and asparagus, so I helped myself to an experimental-sized portion. The shrimp was delicious, and the asparagus was delicious, but the jellyfish was kind of like eating... Flavored cartilage. Rubbery and crunchy at the same time.

So, I won't be eating jellyfish anytime again soon, but I feel like I had a thoroughly cultural experience, which is, I suppose, what the professor intended.

Published with Blogger-droid v1.5.2

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Mom's Greek Salad

My mom makes the best Greek salad. It's all in the dressing, and I'm about to share it with you.

  • 1/2 c. olive oil
  • 1/4 c. red wine vinegar
  • Crushed garlic (more or less, depending on preference; I use 4-6 cloves)
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Generous amount of dried oregano (2-3 tbsp.)
  • Salt and pepper to taste (add salt at the very end; give a shake or two, then dip a fork in and taste it; repeat as necessary)

  • Whisk everything together until it's all blended.    

 For salad:
  • Romaine, chopped
  • Feta cheese, crumbled
  • Cucumber, chopped/diced/however you like it in a salad
  • Green bell pepper, chopped
  • Onions, finely sliced
  • Kalamata olives 
  • Toss it all together with the dressing
  • Voila! 
  • Feel free to leave out anything you don't care fore (I'm not big into Kalamata olives, or onions for that matter) 

yum YUM YUM!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Nate Duval

While I was at Renegade Craft Fair the other week, I discovered artist Nate Duval, who was running a booth with fellow artist Jen Skelley. I stood in the booth for several minutes, trying to materialize a new wall in our apartment on which I could hang one of his poster-size prints. I couldn't do it, so I had to give up and move on. I came back one more time though, just to try again, but I guess I'll have to wait until we have a house with more walls to hang stuff on. Until then, I'll just share his art with you.

I love the spaghetti-ness of the waves!
City by the Sea

Colors and textures... yesss

I greatly enjoy this one: "Delectable Duo"

And one last one for ya:
For a kids' room?? So cute!!


Friday, August 6, 2010

Redeeming the Pioneer Woman

My last post was about chicken piccata, and I didn't give the Pioneer Woman a very good review.

I should probably balance that review with one of her recipes that is INCREDIBLE. I hardly ever make it because, unfortunately, it's not exactly the picture of healthfulness, and there are always leftovers, and the leftovers call to me from the fridge to snack, and snack frequently. Therefore, I'd rather just not have the temptation sitting there. It is, though, oh so good.

Here you are:

Pioneer Woman's Baked Lemon Pasta

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Chicken Piccata vs. Chicken Piccata

The Battle of the Chicken Piccatas.

Normally, I trust pretty much everything The Pioneer Woman has to say. I thought her recipe for chicken piccata looked divine, and I am a HUGE fan of anything containing the lemon/garlic combination, and on top of that, add white wine into the sauce? Sold.

Well, I made her recipe. Here it is: Pioneer Woman's chicken piccata. And here's a pic:

DELISH, right?

We thought it was ok. I mean, I'd never had chicken piccata before, so I had nothing to base it on, but... I don't know... something was lacking. Maybe the sauce was too strong? Too tangy? Too rich? Maybe a combo of all three?

So anyways, that was a couple months ago. Last night, I figured I'd give another version of chicken piccata a whirl, and here's the recipe I tried: Eating Well's version of chicken piccata. And here's a pic:

Looks pretty good, but to be honest, Pioneer Woman's looked a lot better. Well, surprise, surprise! Based on a unanimous decision by the husband, the second version was the winner.

Why was it better, you ask? 
1. Not as overwhelming. The flavors were far more subtle, and rightly so. Especially the lemon.

2. Not as rich. About halfway into PW's version, both of us had to push our plates away. It was good, but   too rich. Perhaps due to the heavy whipping cream on the list of ingredients.

3. Healthier. The second recipe calls for no cream at all (okay, I did pour a little half n' half in, but we're talking like 1/8 of a cup... not 3/4 of heavy cream), and it calls for about half the cooking fat (3 tsp. olive oil & 2 tsp. butter, vs. 4 tbsp. olive oil and 5 tbsp. butter).

4. Garlic-y. The second version called for several cloves of garlic. I always double it. Or triple it.

5. Mushroom-y. We looove mushrooms, but if you don't, leave em out.

I did add extra lemon juice to the sauce because I couldn't really taste it at first, and I thickened the sauce a bit more as well. It was rather thin as is.

If you try either one, let me know what you think!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Flowers from Napkins!

Months ago, my friend Megan made these gorgeous flowers for a triple baby shower at work.


She showed me how to make them, and she showed me the blog that taught her how to make them. That was in April or so, and come June, did I remember how to make them? No. Could I find the blog anywhere online? Nope. But I wanted to make them to decorate the rehearsal dinner for my brother's wedding, so I experimented a little and finally figured it out. Since I couldn't find the original tutorial online, and as I am in the process of making more napkin flowers for a friend's wedding this weekend, I thought I'd offer up my own tutorial.

Step 1. Gather supplies. You will need:
  • Two sets of napkins: one pack of dinner-sized, and one pack of dessert-sized. Chinet and Vanity Fair brands work well for the larger size. I like to use white for the larger size and yellow for the smaller size.
  • 22-gauge floral wire. You can get this in the fake flower section of any craft store, like Michael's or Jo-Ann's.
  • Pliers that will clip wire. I used my jewelry pliers, but any cutting pliers will work.
  • Scissors

Step 2.  Cut lengths of wire.
  • I recommend cutting lengths of wire about eight inches long. It doesn't matter if they're longer, but the shorter ones will be hard to wrap around the flower. Cut as many wires as the number of flowers you plan to make.
My wire, all cut into nice pieces

 Step 3. Make a flower!
  • Lay out three large napkins on top of one another; then lay out two smaller napkins centered on top of the big ones.
  •  Fold the napkins like an accordion, creasing each edge as you go, until it looks like this:

  •  Now you need to trim the ends into a rounded shape. It's easiest to do this one set at a time. So take the yellow napkins off of the white ones and press them back into their accordion folds. You will cut all the edges at once. 
Take off the yellow set and fold them back into their accordion shape
Holding the ends all together, trim them into a rounded shape
  •  Once both ends of the yellow set are trimmed, set it aside and trim the ends of the white set of napkins the same way you trimmed the yellow.
Trim the white napkins the same as you did the yellow. You can see the trimmed yellow ones in the background. 

  •  Now that all the ends are trimmed, fit the yellow napkins and the white napkins back together like so:

  • Fold everything back into its accordion shape and pinch the middle. You will now wrap the middle with wire to keep everything together. 

  • When you wrap the wire, you will want to make a little loop at the back of your flower with the wire. That way, you will have a way to tie your flower to something-- either a garland (like in the very first photo) or if you are going to be using the flowers as centerpieces (like my friend will at her wedding), you will be able to tie the flower to a small pebble so it won't blow away or move easily.
  • Begin wrapping the wire. When you have used up about half of the wire, make a small loop at the back of your flower, and continue wrapping until all the wire has been used up. Make sure the wire is nice and tight. 
Beginning to wrap the wire
Leaving some wire sticking up to twist the loop
Just give the sticking-up-part a good twist or two, and you will have a nice loop.
  •  Your flower should look like this now:
  •  It's time to ruffle it up so it looks like a flower! Work slowly and carefully so you don't rip a layer. One layer at a time, pull each layer up and toward the center of the flower. Don't be afraid to pull it until it is nice and snug! 
Pulling up the first layer

  • Keep pulling up layers one at a time until the whole flower is ruffled up! 
One yellow side ruffled up
Now both yellow sides
Starting on the white part
  •  Fluff and adjust the petals of your flower until it looks just the way you want. 


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Fine Little Day

Sometime before Christmas last year, I came across a site called Fine Little Day. They also have a shop. My favorite items in their shop are the cutting boards that easily double as art pieces. In fact, I loved this one so much that when my mom asked me for Christmas ideas, I emailed her the link!

This is hanging in my kitchen!

They've got some other cute ones, like this:

Stage cutting board 

And this:

"Ok" cutting board

They have other items, but the cutting boards are so unique, and I just love the little vegetables that smile at me from the kitchen wall every day! Will I ever cut on it? Never!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Workout

I think I've accepted the fact that I am not a person who "loves working out".

Some people get a renewed sense of vigor and accomplishment each time they work out. They can't wait for the next time, and they push themselves harder with each successive session. Those are the folks you see at the gym who are sweating profusely, wiping neck and forehead with a hand towel, and when you sneak a glance at the monitor on their treadmill, you see they have clocked ninety minutes, and the calorie-count monitor reads "785"... and they have the look that says, "I could do this alllll day."

The only feeling I find when I work out is "When will I be done... when will I be done... when will I be done..."

I've given up going to the gym.

I tried it for awhile-- off and on for two years-- and I figure I've donated more money to the gym than I've spent actually working out. L.A. Fitness does not need my donations.

If I am going to work out, it needs to be readily accessible. In my own home or my own neighborhood. It's really nice going walking and jogging with my husband. It almost doesn't seem like a workout that way (well, walking never feels like a workout) because we get to talk. With his insane work and school schedule, anything feels like a date-- even a jog around the block.

But we can't even do that very often, so my workout of choice is:
Yep, gliding discs. It looks like I've been scammed by an informercial or an "As Seen on TV" special, but I'm not kidding you, they work. In fact, if you Google "Gliding Discs", you'll get more hits claiming how bogus the product is, but here's the thing: Those people haven't tried it! #1, the discs do glide; #2, the discs do not magically glide on their own; #3, after doing the workout for several months now, I have muscles in my legs I didn't know were there!

This is about as accessible as you get. Me, living room, TV, and discs. Why don't I do it every day?? Probably because there is something in me that just. doesn't. like. working. out.

This story doesn't really have an end. Why should I work out if I seem to possess an inherent dislike of the activity? Well, cheesy as it might sound, my mom motivates me and she probably doesn't even know it. Ever since I can remember, she has made it a priority. Starting when I was fourteen, she took me running with her for two miles every other day, when the sun was out and when the Seattle sky was doing what it usually does: rain. She gave birth to five children and she's still in great shape! She still works out every day! That's what I want to be like "when I grow up", and I want my kids to be able to say the same.