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Archive for the ‘30 days of making stuff’ tag

More Assorted Stuff

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Yesterday I made a necklace I don’t particularly like (using some purple line agate I got for a different project but didn’t use) and today I made some awesome honey whole wheat bread (and arugula pesto for tomorrow’s dinner, but I don’t think an ordinary dinner thing I make all the time really counts as “making something”).

Another necklaceHomemade honey whole wheat bread

I used this bread recipe with the changes suggested by several people, like so:

  • 1 1/8 cup warm water
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup bread flour
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon yeast

Throw everything in a bread machine set on wheat/light/1 pound. I noticed that the dough was super sticky at first, so I added quite a bit more flour (both kinds) and that worked. Our bread machine is old and weird, so when the bake cycle started, I punched down the dough and then put it in a loaf pan and baked it (in the oven, not the bread machine) at 350 for 30 minutes. Next time, I’ll just do everything by hand because holy crap it’s not that hard to knead some dough. Anyway, the bread is really, really good — not too dense and very doughy, just the way I like it. The bread we’ve been buying since going non-GMO (Rudi’s) is good, but this is better and it’s not that much work.

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If you’re in Denver, do you know about the Chipotle Cultivate Festival going on at City Park on Saturday? I don’t even eat at Chipotle, but I think this is just about the coolest thing, ever. There’s stuff for kids to do (plant seeds, eat vegetables, make t-shirts), lots of good beer, and best of all we can see Tennis and Okkervil River (I’m a dirty dirty hipster and love Okkervil River). And it’s all free.

As the parent of a little kid, one of my favorite things to do is attend outdoor festival-type things where you can drink good beer, listen to music, and maybe get some food. I suspect Denver might be the best place in the world for this stuff. We’ve recently enjoyed Tour De Fat and Oktoberfest (although, being vegetarians, we don’t eat at Oktoberfest and while we’re at it the beer isn’t my favorite, but the accordion music more than makes up for it).

The big idea I’ve been talking about for years involves something kind of like City Park Jazz but on a much smaller scale and with DJs, probably at City Park because I’m biased and it’s close to us. It would be super awesome to go see, say, Mark Farina (if we want to be really ambitious) or just good, local DJs, at the park on a Sunday afternoon with your kid. Hey Denver, how do we make that happen?

Written by Tracy

October 2nd, 2012 at 11:28 pm

I made more stuff this weekend.

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I’ve decided that I’m doing this thing wherein I’m going to try to make something almost every day (let’s say 6 days a week, which allows one day for being lazy or busy) for 30 days. Now that I’ve said it I’m destined to fail, but I’ll do my best.

On Saturday, I made a skull/quasi marigold hair flower for our upcoming Day of the Dead/birthday party. The skull was attached with hot glue, after sewing and Loctite didn’t work. The flower is from Nordstrom (it was a too-small headband, so I removed the headband and added a bobby pin) and the gigantic sugar skull bead is from Pennyslane via Etsy.

skull + marigold

On Sunday, I finally made my DIY version of the $300 Anthropologie Pimento necklace, which was available this summer.

Inspiration

What’s awesome about the Anthropologie necklace is that the different types of beads (resin and stone) are tied together by the blue color. I couldn’t find anything like that, so I went with all resin beads and came up with this.

DIY necklace

It was on the expensive side as far as DIY jewelry goes, but I think this is my favorite necklace I’ve made so far. The resin beads are from Natural Touch Beads and everything else (brass chains, beads, jump rings, crimp tubes, and clasp) is from Lima Beads.

I wish I had the patience to post a step-by-step tutorial when I make jewelry, but I don’t. If you want to learn about making jewelry, I recommend the Beading Techniques and Beading Q & A from Fusion Beads. If you know how to use beading wire, jump rings, and crimp tubes, you can do almost anything.

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I can’t take credit for this because Ben did it, but Saturday night dinner involved wings made from my homemade seitan. Holy crap they were delicious. All you do is take your seitan (homemade or purchased), slice it (Ben likes smaller pieces because they get nice and crispy), deep fry, and then toss with whatever sauce you like (we had barbecue and hot, the hot being Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo Wing Sauce, which we already had and, sadly, does not comply with our new non-GMO practice — coming soon, homemade sauce for wings). Serve with baby carrots, celery, and ranch dressing. Yum!

homemade vegan seitan wings

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Today’s song:

Written by Tracy

October 1st, 2012 at 10:12 am

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Pumpkin Loaf, Golf, and Privacy Ensembles

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Soon, I’m going to run out of things to make or, at the very least, I’m going to run out of good things to make and start making dumb things just to keep making things. Last night it was vegan, sugar-free pumpkin loaf (based on my recipe).

Untitled

It’s not bad, but not amazing. The vegan part isn’t the problem — the eggs were easy to replace. The sugar part is more tricky. I replaced all the sugar with an equal amount of stevia baking blend. I like stevia (and have been using it in my coffee) but I don’t know. The pumpkin loaf is a little too sweet, with a bit of a weird stevia aftertaste. I mean, it’s still good enough to eat — just not as good as the regular sugar version.

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Soren still likes golf. He’s enjoyed watching golf on tv since he was a wee tot. Today as we were getting ready, he was watching Ryder Cup coverage on ESPN. That was more exciting than the episode of Peppa Pig (his favorite show) where they go to Potato City. Every time someone made a shot, he yelled, “He made it!” and clapped. Maybe golf is the sport for him (he continues to have no use whatsoever for soccer). Hey, it looks like he can start taking golf classes when he’s 4. Maybe he can be the next Rickie Fowler (by “next Rickie Fowler” I mean “next awesome hipster golf dude”).

He's watching golf.

We get some crazy morning sun in the living room.

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Soren is learning about privacy. Or, well, he’s trying to learn about privacy. Yesterday he said to one of the cats, “Xochitl, I have some privacy for you!” Later, when I was attempting to attain privacy in the bathroom, he came in with his hand cupped as if he were holding something in it. “Mommy, I have some privacy for you,” he said as he extended his hand to me. “Eat it!” It has to be weird to learn about abstract concepts when you’re a toddler.

We’re also working on the concept of an “ensemble.” This is the word I use to describe food items that are intended to be eaten together, such as a sandwich, where in an ideal world you eat, say, bread, Tofurky, cheese, lettuce, and mustard all at the same time. Soren’s normal practice is to separate the parts of a collective food item and eat them one at a time. For example, with pizza, he’ll generally eat the cheese, then the top layer of crust that contains sauce, and then (maybe) the rest of the crust. I tell him that a sandwich or pizza or whatever is an “ensemble” (in italics because that’s how I say it) and move my hands in a circular motion (I don’t know why — somehow hand movement seems to increase the importance of the ensemble concept). It’s an ensemble. You’re supposed to eat it together. Who knows if or when he’ll start to enjoy the ensembleness of his meals. I was one of those kids who became mortally offended when food items touched each other, so I get it. (And I’m still to this day annoyed by the people, and there were multitudes, who said “But it all touches in your stomach!” because, duh, you don’t taste it by the time it’s making its way through your digestive system.) That said, what he does to an innocent slice of pizza should be illegal.

Written by Tracy

September 28th, 2012 at 10:58 am

Homemade Seitan & Heartbreak

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In honor of the “I like making stuff” kick I’m on, last night I made seitan for the first time.

Not much to look at

Sorry. Seitan is pretty ugly.

I pretty much followed the recipe from Totally Vegetarian: Easy, Fast, Comforting Cooking for Every Kind of Vegetarian by Toni Fiore, but you can find a seitan recipe anywhere (there was even one on the back of the box of vital wheat gluten I had).

Any time I see “kneading” in recipe instructions, I worry that it’s going to be a pain in the ass. This, however, was very easy kneading. Gluten is kind of amazing. As soon as you add the liquid, it turns into a dough really fast and it’s a nice, polite dough that stays together and doesn’t stick to anything. The hardest part of making homemade seitan was watching it while it was simmering for an hour — if I didn’t check on it often enough (which turned out to be every few minutes), they got all gigantic and puffy. Don’t worry if this happens — if you add more liquid, turn down the heat, and stir, all will be well.

I just tried a few bites last night, pan fried and doused with hot wing sauce. It was pretty good (not quite firm enough), but I think it’ll be much better cut into strips, deep fried, and tossed in hot wing sauce. Seitan wings (with really good ranch dressing) are just about my favorite thing in the world. (If you’re in the Denver area, go to City O City and have their wings. They’re the best.)

What I recommend if you make seitan (and the directions didn’t say this) is removing the seitan from the broth and storing it in the refrigerator, at least overnight. This will help it firm up a bit.

Also, this is my new favorite song.

Written by Tracy

September 27th, 2012 at 6:07 pm

Make Something (Almost) Every Day

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DIY bracelet

As I’ve been getting more into DIY projects and, as I call it, the hippie lifestyle, I’ve realized something: I’m happiest when I’m making stuff. In the past week, I’ve made a list of Denver breweries, laundry detergent, granola, chipotle ranch dressing, a playlist (I’ll post it soon), and a bracelet (pictured above, based on these instructions). I also ordered an ice cream maker (homemade ice cream was Ben’s idea and might be the best idea of all time) (of course I picked the color that’s not yet in stock) and signed us up for home delivery of hormone-free, local dairy products, including the cream for ice cream. (FYI, homemade ice cream does not appear to be a money-saving endeavor.)

I’ve always considered myself a person who enjoys a good amount of ass-sitting, as in sitting on my ass watching tv or puttering around on the internet not really doing anything constructive. I’m (finally!) figuring out that, although I still need some ass-sitting, I prefer being productive, especially when I can be productive in a way I enjoy. This involves projects I can complete in a limited amount of time and in a successful manner. As a person with ADHD, I don’t have the attention span for big projects, like crocheting a blanket or making a dress from scratch. And there are some things I’m just not good at, such as drawing, fiber arts, or pottery. I enjoy small projects I can do reasonably well, like baking and making jewelry and playlists.

Also, I’m a maker, not an organizer. You know those people who organize their drawers and kitchen pantries? Who even have kitchen pantries? Maybe they post something on Pinterest about how you, too, can have a beautifully organized laundry room and a closet full of perfectly folded fitted sheets? I’ll never be one of those people. I hate organizing, even if you make it look easy. I always get overwhelmed. I don’t care about having an attractive laundry room. And, internet, you will never make me care about folding fitted sheets, no matter how hard you try. (Although, that last thing about folding fitted sheets that made its way around the internet also included a tip about putting your bobby pins in upside down, and that’s just about the best tip I’ve ever read.)

If there’s anything useful here I can pass on to you, it’s this. When you find something you like doing, do it. Do it again. Do it when you’d otherwise be doing nothing. See how you feel. If whatever it is you’re doing makes you feel happy and kind of peaceful, keep at it. It’s one of the keys to happiness, I think. Fill your spare time with fun, constructive things and you’ll have less time for worry and stress. You probably already know this, but it’s taken me a while to figure it out.

Written by Tracy

September 26th, 2012 at 11:22 am