Sunday, August 28, 2011

We've Moved!

You can now follow my blog at:

Looking forward to seeing you there!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Getting Ready for Baby!

In between all of our travels the past two months, we've been trying to get everything ready for the arrival of our little girl in October! 

My parents painted the nursery several months ago, this beautiful soft buttery yellow, so we had a great backdrop to start with. I had also made the chicky quilt before I even knew I was pregnant, so that worked out well!


We still have a lot of work to do, particularly getting things hung on the walls.  I also need to finsih a few sewing projects, including the window valence and curtain, covering the cushions on the glider, making a fabric insert for the wicker basket for the changing table, and making pillow cases for two square pillows for the glider.  We still have a lot of work to do, but we're getting close!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Borough Food Market

Sorry for the long delay since my last post!  What have we been up to the last few weeks?  A lot of fun!  At the end of July we spent 10 days in England with Cillian's family in what will likely be our last international trip for a while.  We scheduled the trip around Cillian's cousin's wedding, which was beautiful and a great time.  Then the bride and groom were gracious enough to host us later that same week in their London home and show us the sights. 

One highlight of our time in London was the trip to Borough Market.  This is a huge food market where vendors sell everything from flavored oils and spices to sweets to fresh raw cheeses to street food ready for eating.  It was wonderful!  For any true food lover, you cannot leave London without a visit here.  Plan to spend at least a few hours!

Borough Market is located a short walk from the London Bridge tube stop and bus terminal.  Although it is in the heart of London and close to many other sights, we definitely wouldn't have found it without Dave and Eve's guidance.  If you make it to Borogh Market, I definitely recommend getting there before the lunch hour, buying some goodies, and then sitting to eat on the lawn of the adjacent Southwark Cathedral. 

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Nursery Fabrics

A special delivery arrived this weekend!  I am so excited - - the fabrics for the nursery arrived and they look just as wonderful as I hoped!  These are all from Michael Miller's Gypsy Bandana line, and are gorgeous!

I am planning to do the crib skirt in the green fabric with the border printed along the bottom, a window valence in the corresponding pink, the glider cover in the white floral, and then use the other pink and green fabrics for accents, and probably a quilt with the blues.  I can hardly wait to get started!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Finished Aqua and Fuschia Baby Quilt!

Nothing is prettier than a newly finished and bound quilt!

I put together the top of this quilt last weekend from some random fabrics in my stash.  It is just a very basic nine-patch Irish chain quilt, but I like how the blues and pinks came together.  It is also small - perfectly sized for baby.

I have been wanting to try doing all-over quilting that does not follow the piecing for some time, and thought this could be a fun opportunity to try it.  Plus, I used a flannel backing and was really going for a super-quilted look and feel.  Plus it will help keep the stretchy flannel from getting misshapen through wear or washing.

My favorite part of this quilt, though, is the back.  I absolutely love the print and feel of this fabric.  It is so fun and bright, and the flannel makes you want to lay a baby down on it.  

This should be a good addition to the nursery!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Summer Vegetable Salad

This time of year the vegetables are the stars, and this simple dish really lets their flavors shine.  It is based on fresh sweet corn, just cut off the cob to retain its sweet tender crunch, and red pepper, with the earthy flavor of snap snow peas.   You can toss in chickpeas or other beans for some healthy protein and extra fiber, just seasoned up with a simple lime vinaigrette.


- 2 cobs sweet corn, raw, cut off the cobs 
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 1/2c snow peas, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
- 1 rib celery, diced
- 1/2 can chickpeas
- 1 lime, juiced
- 2T olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, grated
- Dash of cumin
- Salt and Pepper

Toss vegetables in a bowl.

To make the vinaigrette, combine the lime juice, garlic, cumin, and salt and pepper in a small cuisine-art processor, and drizzle in the olive oil while running to completely emulsify.  And toss.

Voila!  A simple sweet crunchy salad with the best flavors of summer!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

She's a Grand Old Flag

Okay, I know flag day was yesterday, but I just didn't get this posted in time!

The inspiration for this quilt was the Washington, DC batik that I ended up just using for the border.  I saw this batik at our regular quilt store - Capital Quilts - over a year ago and absolutely loved it, but wasn't exactly sure what direction to take it.  I thought a star sampler would be a go well with it.

Each star is only 6 inches wide and this was definitely a challenge for me in precision piecing.  I also designed each star myself, and all are based somewhat on the flying geese component.  I'm very happy with the way it turned out!

Once I quilt it, I think it will probably end up being a wall hanging... perfect for a D.C. row house! 

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Flax and Whole Wheat Crepes

This recipe is my attempt to make a great healthy breakfast out of a weekend favorite, crepes.  These crepes are not as light and tender as crepes made with white flour and more butter, but they pack a good serving of fiber and amino-3 fatty acids in a nutty, flavorful package.

- 1/2c whole wheat flour
- 1/4c flaxmeal
- 3 eggs
- 3/4c milk
- 2T melted butter

Mix all ingredients together in a blender until mixed well.

Pour a little batter into a pre-heated non-stick pan on medium heat.  Pour into the center of the pan, and then turn and tilt pan to create a thin coating of batter.  When the batter starts to cook through, the crepe is ready to flip.  If you use a non-stick pan, you can tell it is ready to turn when the batter no longer looks wet and the edges start to come up from the pan.


When you flip the crepe, it should look golden and cooked through.

It should only take a minute or two to cook through the rest of the way.  When done, remove from pan.  Coat half of crepe with desired ingredients.  Our favorites are nutella and a mixed berry compote.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Healthy Pumpkin Muffins

In an effort to partially revamp my diet, and to follow my midwife's orders of no processed sugars or simple carbohydrates, I decided to try a healthy pumpkin muffin recipe to replace the craving for a slice of Starbuck's pumpkin loaf mid-morning.  These muffins have a lot of ingredients, including some that you probably don't have hanging around your pantry already, but I think the extra effort is worth the signifcant cut in sugar, calories, and fat found in most baked goods. 

- 1 c whole wheat flour
- 1/4c oat or wheat bran
- 1/4c flaxseed meal
- 2t baking powder
- 1 1/2t baking soda
- 2t cinnamon
- 1/4t ground ginger
- 1/4t ground cloves
- 1/4t ground nutmeg
- 3/4c pumpkin puree
- 2 large eggs
- 3T canola oil (you maybe could use even less)
- 1c white grape juice concentrate
- 1/3c sugar free apricot preserves (I used sugar free even though I am very sensitive to that artificial sugar taste)
- 2t vanilla
- 2/3c golden raisins or chopped dried apricots
- 1/2c toasted chopped walnuts

- Mix together the dry ingredients (flour, bran, flaxseed, baking powder and soda, and spices).  In a separate bowl, mix together the pumpkin, eggs, oil, grape juice concentrate, preserves, and vanilla until it is all a consistent texture.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until just incorporated.  Add the dried fruit and toasted nuts, as desired. 

- Divide evenly into 12 muffins and bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes.
I think the walnuts add a great toasty crunch to the finished muffins, even though I usually shy away from nuts in my baked goods.  I also used the golden raisins, which plump up during cooking, and take on a very moist texture that almost blends into the rest of the muffin.  Next time I might chop them up a bit, as they can get pretty large after they expand in the muffins. 

Finally, I think you could substitute in a different juice concentrate for the white grape juice, if desired.  Apple juice concentrate would probably work well. 

Up next week:  Triple blueberry muffins!

Sunday, May 15, 2011


Last week Cillian and I decided to rent a car and head down through the Appalachians.  It was a wonderful, rejuvinating trip.  We only drove a few hours any given day, and took time to wander and explore.  We both returned feeling refreshed and with our creative energies restored.  Here are a few of the highlights of the beautiful scenery we saw from Virginia to North Carolina.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Barbeque Chicken and Vegetable Pizza

Tonight we made an awesome pizza for dinner, so I have to share it!  For us, pizza is actually a great way to get a ton of veggies and some lean protein in a quick meal that is easy to clean up.  

- Pizza crust
- 1c finely shredded Parmesan cheese  
- 1 chicken breast, cut into small pieces 
- 1 red pepper, cut into bite-size strips
- 1/2 yellow onion, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1/2 jalapeno pepper, very finely cut (more or less depending on your preference)
- 1-2 cobs of sweetcorn, cut off the cob
- 2oz chevre cheese
- 2-3c arugula 
- 1T chili powder
- 2t cumin
- 1t oregano
- 2T smoked paprika
- 1T tomato paste 
- 1/4c chicken or vegetable stock
- 1/4c barbeque sauce
- Salt and pepper
- Canola/Vegetable Oil

To prepare your chicken and vegetables, season the cut chicken pieces with salt and pepper, and smoked paprika.  If you don't have smoked paprika, there's no need to run out and buy it for this recipe.  You can substitute in some of the chili powder and cumin.

Saute your chicken pieces until cooked.  Set aside.  In the same pan, saute the red pepper, onion, and jalapeno until cooked but still crisp.  Add chili powder, cumin, oregano, and salt and pepper and cook for another minute.  Add tomato paste and cook for about a minute.  The mixture should be pretty pasty at this point, so you will probably need to loosen things up with some stock (or substitute a little water for the stock if you don't have it on hand).  Add barbeque sauce.

To assemble the pizza, first spread the Parmesan cheese onto crust.  This will create a barrier between your crust and the wet ingredients, so your crust doesn't get soggy.  Then add the arugula, corn, chicken, and sauteed vegetables.  Top with crumbled chevre cheese. 

Cook at 450 degrees for about 12 minutes.

Another great feature of pizza is that you can easily change it up and substitute in ingredients you may have on hand for those that you don't.  This recipe itself was a first-time experiment based on a southwest-style salad we've been loving lately, but it turned out great! 

Friday, May 13, 2011

Asheville Cotton Co.

Last week while I was in Asheville, NC and Cillian was busy running the Shut-In Trail (a 17-mile run over Mt. Pisgah with 5000 feet of elevation climb!) I opted to take it easy and visit the Asheville Cotton Co.  This is a great little cloth store just outside of downtown Asheville, NC.  Not only will you be inspired by the beautiful mountains and natural beauty of Asheville, but the fabric in the store is bright and fun, and definitely inspirational!  This is not like so many other fabric stores in the south that is stocked full of restoration prints or civil-war fabrics in dull browns and mauves.  Instead, it is full of bright fun prints - the perfect stop if you are planning a baby or kid's quilt. 

The ladies working at the Asheville Cotton Co. the afternoon I visited were so helpful and friendly.  They also had a sale table with great fabric at 50-70% off!  I picked up a few bright colored fabrics that I think will be good additions to my stash.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Chicky Quilt

Here is one of my most recent completions:

It is a very simple piecing and applique pattern, but turned out so cute!  My friend Elle and I both made one of these together - it was so fun to pick out which yellows we would use for each bird.  We bought a roll of various yellow prints and batiques and just had fun mixing and matching.  Each chicky body and wing uses a different yellow fabric. 

To assemble this quilt, just sew the corners onto larger white squares of fabric.  Then applique your chickies, and complete with sashing and borders. 

The other nice thing about this baby quilt is that it is unisex, so it makes a great gift for someone who is not finding out the sex of their baby until after it is born, or if you are like me and can't wait until you're 20 weeks along to start making baby quilts!  That's right - this quilt is the first in line for Baby Lynch (aka Spud)!

Happy quilting!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Happy Earth Day and Homemade Laundry Detergent

Today is Earth Day - the perfect opportunity to step back and think about your individual impact on our planet.  It is also a great time to teach kids about the importance of environmental responsibility.  We can all do our small or large part to help keep the earth a pleasant place to live and raise our families. 

In honor of Earth Day I am hoping to send all of my readers over to, a wonderful blog about keeping a home and raising a family in a way that reduces our impact on the earth and ourselves.  This website/blog is run by Maureen, a friend of a friend in Chicago, who has two small children.  Yet, she manages to do things like develop her own recipe for low-chemical laundry detergent and write a manifesto to help new parents figure out how to use cloth diapers

About two weeks ago, I made a batch of Maureen's laundry detergent.  We have been using it on our linens and clothes, and have not noticed any decrease in cleanliness or stain-removing power.  What I have noticed, in particular, is the scent-free end result - clean sheets and clothes without a trace of chemical scent on them.  And, you can feel good about using this detergent because you know everything that is in it. 

I will just say that if you have a high-efficiency washer, you should treat this detergent like it is a powder as it is thicker than traditional liquid detergent.  Other than that, we've been very happy with it and encourage you to give it a try!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Mixed Vegetable au Gratin

One way to change up your nightly vegetable serving is to bake it up with a little cheese and milk.  Au gratin style vegetables will add some calories to your veggies, but this recipe compromises a little richness by substituting in skim milk

- Mixed vegetables - I used one medium-sized head of cauliflower, 8 carrots, 4 small potatoes.
- 2T unsalted butter
- 2T flour
- 3/4c grated gruyere cheese
- 1/2c grated parmesan
- 2c milk
- 1/4c breadcrumbs
- Pepper
- Grated nutmeg

Cut your vegetables into bite-sized pieces.  Arrange in an oven-safe baking dish.  Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

Make a roux by melting the butter in a saucepan over medium heat and then adding flour, constantly stirring for about 2 minutes, until the flour starts to cook a little.  Add milk a little at a time while stirring.  Bring to a light boil and then stir in 1/2c gruyere cheese, paremesan, nutmeg, and pepper to taste.  Pour cheese mixture over vegetables.  If it doesn't completely cover the vegetables, that's fine.  It should come up about half-way.

Sprinkle a little of the remaining gruyere over the top, then the breadcrumbs, and top with a little more gruyere.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until top is browned and vegetables are cooked.

This dish has a lot of flavor, and so it is a good accompaniment for chicken or other dish that won't compete with it too much.

Bon appetite! 

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Strawberry, Banana, and Chocolate French Toast for Two

This is a great alternate breakfast for Saturday or Sunday Morning when you have a little more time and want to treat yourself to something sweet.  It is easy to make, and so tasty!

- 4 pieces sturdy bread
- 1c milk
- 2 eggs
- 1t vanilla
- Pinch of cinnamon
- 8-10 strawberries, thinly sliced
- 1 banana, thinly sliced
- 1c chocolate chips

Whisk together eggs, milk, vanilla and cinnamon.

Place a layer of strawberry and banana slices down on one piece of bread.  Sprinkle about 15-20 chocolate chips on the fruit, and then top with another layer of fruit.  Place second piece of bread on top, so you have a fruit and chocolate sandwich.

Preheat your skillet over medium high heat.

Carefully dip each side into the egg mixture so that the bread is wet.

Spray your skillet with Pam, if needed.  Place french toast "sandwiches" into the skillet and cook, about 3-4 minutes per side, or until the toast is golden brown and the chocolate is melted.

While french toast is cooking, place remaining 1/2c or so of chocolate chips in the microwave and cook for about 45-60 second, until melted.  Set aside.

Remove from the skillet, and cut in half along the diagonal.  Top with more sliced strawberries and drizzle melted chocolate over top.

Monday, March 21, 2011


So much for my March Madness bracket.  It wasn't looking so good for me after the first round, but I think this weekend was the death knell.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Shrimp with Lemon Ginger Rice Pilaf

This weeks cooking class at culinaerie was focused on grains.  It was mostly review, but we learned more about how various types of semi-processed grains are made.  My partner and I also decided to experiment a little with the flavors of a traditional pilaf.  We added lemon, ginger, and garlic to the usual shallots and butter.  The result was outstanding!  I made some sauted shrimp with lemon pepper seasoning to round it out into a meal.

Rice Pilaf
Rice pilaf is one of the easiest ways to make really flavorful rice.  The typical pattern is to sweat onions in butter, then add rice and aromatics, toss to coat in the butter, then add the liquid and bring to a boil.  Finish in a 400-degree oven for 17 minutes.

Here is how we tweaked this traditional procedure to make our ginger lemon rice pilaf:

- Butter
- 1c basmatti (or other long-grain) rice
- ~2c chicken stock
- 1 shallot, finely diced
- 1 lemon (zest and juice)
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1T grated ginger
- Salt & Pepper

Melt the butter over medium heat.  Add diced shallot and sweat until shallot is translucent.  Add the ginger, lemon zest, and garlic and stir to incorporate.  Add the rice and stir so that the butter coats the grains.  This helps supress the starches on the outside of the rice grains, so that the rice does not get sticky. 

Add the juice from the lemon plus enough chicken stock so that the total liquid is 2 cups.  Bring to a boil.  Cover and put in a 400-degree oven for 17 minutes.

For the shrimp, I simply seasoned it with lemon pepper seasoning and sauted it in equal parts butter and oil until it was nice and pink. 

Garnish with parsley.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Signs of Spring

It was still only 32 degrees this morning when George and I went out for our morning run, but there are signs of spring popping up everywhere, including our front yard!

Spring is on the way.... hopefully it will be accompanied by a renewed dedication to my blog!