World Down Syndrome Day  

Posted by Emily in

Today is World Down Syndrome Day, a day designated to help spread awareness of the needs and rights and to promote acceptance of individuals with Down's Syndrome.

Please go to World Down Syndrome Day to read more about the event. For more information on Down's Syndrome itself, check out their links page.

Relish Me This  

Posted by Emily in , , ,

I started making this Jalapeño Pickle Relish the same day that I made the Pickled Garlic; I let the chopped veggies soak overnight in the fridge and finished the recipe the next day while DH was at work (he was complaining about the vinegar smell-which admittedly was pretty strong).

It turned out a bit too sweet and not spicy enough for me, but still pretty tasty. Next time I'll just add some more jalapeños and a bunch of garlic and it should be perfect. I got four bottles from this recipe, which should last me a few months!

I also slow-roasted some jalapeños on the stove to make some hot sauce. All you do is pour 1/2 cup of oil (I used olive oil) into a large frying pan and add your jalapeños. Turn on the heat to a pretty low setting- according to my neighbor (who gave me this recipe) the slower the roast, the better the taste. Cover them with a lid and let them roast for about an hour, shaking the pan every once in a while to turn the peppers. I lifted the lid to take a picture, but I don't recommend that- hot oil flying out at you is no fun!

Pull off the stems, puree the peppers in your blender until smooth (or semi-smooth)- and you have yourself some awesome hot sauce. You can see I added garlic to the pan while I was roasting the peppers- don't do that; they turned out hard as rocks. Just add the garlic to the blender. It's kind of sweet and very spicy- this one gives you a slow burn that tends to sneak up on you! It's delicious on the tamales my neighbor gives me once in a while.

Hedgehog Home  

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serendipity_sarah received her hedgehog pincushion and has posted pictures, so I can show them to you now. These are the pictures I took before I sent him out to her:
I used this pattern for his body, then made up the pattern for the spikes on his back.

I had so much fun doing this swap!

Now I'm working on creating 10 things (2 groups of 5 similar items) for the Sweat Shoppe Swap, Round 13. More on that later...

...and Topping it with Pickled- Garlic!  

Posted by Emily in , ,

Last year I went to the Arizona Renaissance Festival with my husband and some friends. We walked around all the shops, caught the Ded Bob Show, had a turkey leg, watched a joust, laughed through the Tortuga Twins, saw all the wonderful crafts, enjoyed the glass-blowing demonstration.. and generally had a great time. But the best part? On the way out, my husband and I spied a huge sign that touted GARLIC- which of course was a sign that neither he nor I could walk past. They had several types of pickled garlic for sale and, after sampling every one of them, we came home with a bottle of pickled garlic with jalapeños. They are so good on sandwiches, salads, mixed into salsa... eaten whole by themselves... yum..

I had plans to go to the Festival today with some friends and I knew the one thing I was definitely going to buy were a few bottles of the pickled garlic. I ran out pretty quickly last year and I wanted to have a good stock to last me longer this year. Unfortunately my friends wound up not being able to go to the festival, and I didn't want to drive for over an hour to get there only to pay the entrance fee and hang out by myself, even if it did mean I'd come away with these pickled gems.

So what is a girl to do? Make her own!

I found this recipe for Pickled Garlic with Hot Pepper on Recipezaar (a great recipe resource, by the way!)

It's pretty easy to shop for the supplies for this recipe. I had everything but the habaneros I had decided to use instead of jalapeños (I like it hot!) I left out the red peppers and used apple cider vinegar instead of white vinegar for more flavor. I halved the recipe except for the peppers- I was making two small bottles, and I put 3 peppers in each bottle (did I mention I like it HOT?) Here are my lovely bottles of Pickled Garlic & Habanero Peppers:

They have to rest for 2 weeks before I can eat them to allow the garlic and peppers to pickle and the flavors to blend... oh, the torture! I'll report back then to let you know how they turned out.

By the way, just in case no one caught the reference in my title (which wouldn't surprise me, I'm just weird that way): That was part of the first song in the ending credits to Care Bears in Wonderland, sung by Grumpy himself. Here is a clip from Youtube (the song starts at 2:50):

This movie was a favorite of my brother and I when we were kids. We used to pick a character each and say all the lines of that character throughout the whole movie. Grumpy was our favorite and we would fight over who would "be" him each time! This song was going through my head while I made the pickled garlic- there is a line (starting at 3:10) where Grumpy sings "I'm filling up my belly with ice cream and jelly and topping it with pickled beets." Ah, good times.

Crafty Swapping  

Posted by Emily in , , ,

One of my favorite things to do it participate in craft swaps through Craftster. One of the current swaps I'm in is the "ANOTHER Pin Cushion Swap Round 6" My swap partner, serendipity_sarah, hasn't received from me yet, so I can't post pics here of what I've made until she does- but I can show you what she sent me. First, this gorgeous felt elephant:

And she also sent me a bonus pincushion/sewing kit made from an Altoids tin:
I'm so happy I was partnered with someone with such talented and creative sewing skills. She really paid attention to what I said in the sign up questionnaire and made things she knew I would enjoy. I hope I did as well! She should be receiving hers by the middle of next week, so I'll post pictures of what I sent as soon as she confirms receipt.

New Favorite Subject: Chemexstry  

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The other day I was browsing Savers when what to my wondering eyes should appear, but this majestic masterpiece of fine craftmanship:

The price? $2.99! I love Savers. You should have heard me- I made this mix between a gasp and a low squeal of pleasure while I quickly grabbed it before anyone else could snatch it from me (um, yeah- there was no one near me but I couldn't be too careful!) I've been thinking about buying one of these after reading about it online quite a bit, but I hadn't quite committed myself to the purchase. I even pointed it out to my husband last week when we were getting some coffee in Scottsdale and told him he could buy me that for my birthday next month. This would have cost about $40 new, so good thing I spotted it at Savers!

After a thorough cleaning and carefully reading Chemex brewing instructions from Sweet Maria's, I commenced my first manual drip coffee making experience this morning. I ground the beans (Java Jampit Small Bean from Intatto Coffee, where I also obtained the filters) using my burr grinder set exactly in the middle, shooting for a medium grind. Here's a couple pictures of what the brew looks like:

I had my laptop open to the Sweet Maria's page for reference:

The resulting coffee was so smooth and tasty! Just like I've read on Coffeegeek, it was a very "clean" tasting cup of coffee, and the best part was no sediment like you get with a French Press. It took a longer to brew than it should have, so next time I'll adjust the grind a little coarser and see how that goes. I got about 12 minutes, and the sweet spot is between 5-8 minutes- even so, still a yummy cup of coffee. Of course a good part of that is because of the fresh roasted coffee from Intatto- if you're ever in the vicinity of Greenway and Tatum in Scottsdale, AZ, I highly recommend you stop there!

Girlscout Cookies: Get 'em While the Getting's Good  

Posted by Emily in

If you didn't order any cookies from your neighborhood Girl Scout, this Sunday is the last day you will have the opportunity to buy any until next year!

I love me some Thin Mints but they never come to my door!

Go to or for more information on Girl Scout Cookies and scouting in general.

Coffee Experiment..Continues  

Posted by Emily in

I brewed coffee from the batch I roasted on Sunday both yesterday morning and this morning... not so good. The beans smell off, both burnt and with some tones I can't really identity other than "not right." The brewed coffee definitely smells burnt.

I've consulted with the experts at Coffee Geek; they have deemed this an uneven roast. I showed them the same photos of my roast that I posted the other day; I have some charred beans and it doesn't look like many of the beans reached first crack, which means those beans were "baked" rather than roasted. I need to learn how to identify first crack by sight as well as sound. With my next roast, I'm going to start out with 8oz of beans but at the same heat level, which should produce a faster roast and bring on first crack much sooner and allow me to get closer to second crack without baking.

I really need to get a 550 degree thermometer like this one from Cooper:

This is on top of my wish list (which is only in my head!)

FCC Favors Redheaded Lesbian Pagan Moms Who Went to Bandcamp  

Posted by Emily in , ,

FCC Okays Nudity On TV If It's Alyson Hannigan

Double Rainbow!  

Posted by Emily in ,

This is a rainbow that my friend and I saw on our way home a couple weeks ago. Beautiful!

Help! I'm sewing and I can't thread up!  

Posted by Emily in ,

I read an article in the New Zealand Herald today about a woman who called their equivalent of 911...not because she was in dire need of emergency assistance because of a life-threatening situation, no! She called because she was sewing in preparation of going to a garden party and couldn't thread her needle! Dang that teeny hole and wily thread! Must.Get.To.The.Party!

The NZ authorities did not send anyone because "the local police lacked the necessary skill." More like the local police lacked the necessary tolerance for crazy!

Here's a link to the story:

Roasting Coffee Without an Open Fire  

Posted by Emily in

I decided to start learning how to roast my own coffee at home. Why? Because I love coffee and like many things, making it yourself can result in a much better product than what you'll find in stores. Now, I'm not saying I'll make coffee better than many -or possibly any- of the local roasters, but I know I can beat out any coffee sold at a grocery store and most of the coffee shops that have their coffee shipped in.

I started out reading about popcorn popper roasting on Coffee Geek and Sweet Maria's- if you ever need information about coffee, those are the two places I would start!

I purchased a Popcorn Pumper at Savers, my local thrift store, for $4. I modified it a little bit using the "7 Steps to Hot Rodding a Popcorn Pumper" instructions found at That was pretty simple; what hasn't been simple for me is getting a good roast. I have roasted about 6 batches now and haven't been able to get cup that wasn't either too weak or too burnt. I haven't given up on the Pumper yet, but I was reading the forums on Coffee Geek last night and became intrigued by the idea of roasting coffee on my stove top... what else would I do for the first time at 2 o'clock in the morning?

I heated up my 2 quart, hard-anodized steel stock pot for 12 minutes at level 6 on my stove (I have a flat top stove that starts at low, then goes through stages from 1-9, then high). I don't have a thermometer (one reason I haven't had a successful batch in the popper I'm sure), but someone else on the blog recommended this level on his stove, which sounds about the same as mine...

After 12 minutes I measured out 1 pound of green coffee beans and dumped them into the pan. Then I stirred. And stirred. And stirred. And stirred some more- I stirred for 35 minutes! I used a wire whisk and stirred the heck out of those beans- I didn't want any scorching on these babies! I heard the first crack at 23 minutes; another crack at 26 minutes; a dull crack followed by two or three higher pitched cracks at 28 minutes; then a few more cracks at 31 1/2 minutes. I stopped the roast at 35 minutes, because the color on the beans looked good and I was worried I hadn't had the heat up enough to avoid baking the beans.

I took the beans out to the porch, dumped them on a huge aluminum cookie sheet and blasted them with a fan while stirring them around with the whisk to cool them off and to blow away the chaff- and there was lots of chaff!

These are my pretty beans:
Pan Roasted Mar 2

And closer:
Pan Roasted Mar 2 Closeup

They've been de-gassing for about 22 hours now, so I have some time left before I will brew them. I'm still new to home roasting, so I'm not sure if they'll be ready in the morning, but I roasted enough that I can try them every day for several days to find out how long they need to rest to reach peak flavor. I'm willing to be the guinea pig... my husband, however, doesn't so much appreciate the pursuit of excellence as much as the realization of it- he's going to wait until I have some sip-worthy coffee!