Last Friday night Ryan and I (well mostly Ryan, I was the art director) went on a hanging-stuff-on-the-walls-spree and added about twenty new things all around the house. It makes everything look so much more done. Beck’s room got these happy additions, a balloon print and our hilarious first attempt at a photo booth. The light bounced right off that round, kissable head of his.
photos by Jennifer Little of Sugar Photography
PS Just in case you missed this.
Today’s post is from Joy of Frock Files. She’ll be dropping in now and again to share her ideas for simple, just because gifts inspired by the book 29 Gifts by Cami Walker (which now I must read).
My neighborhood has been a flurry of activity recently, with neighbors going through big life changes –you know, the kind that don’t allow for a lot of time in the kitchen. Whipping up a quick, hot meal for your neighbors doesn’t have to take a lot of time or effort, but the unexpected gesture will definitely be appreciated and remembered long into the future. This healthy corn chowder is a crowd pleaser — and so is the cute packaging.
In less time than it takes to watch a cooking show, you’ll have finished this simple soup. It’s literally a matter of mashing a potato, sautéing a few ingredients, then adding a few more. Surprisingly, the complexity of flavor makes it taste like it took hours to make (you can pretend it did).
1 medium uncooked yukon gold potato(es)
1/4 cup onion, chopped
1 1/2 cup thawed frozen corn (or fresh)
1/2 cup sweet red pepper(s), diced
3 strips uncooked bacon, diced
2 cups milk (skim, 1%, or 2%)
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp table salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp Sriracha or other hot sauce
Pierce the potato with a fork at either end and around the middle. Microwave on high for 3 minutes, turn the potato over, then microwave for another three minutes. Alternately, you can boil the potato. Allow it to cool, then peel and mash well with a fork. In a large saucepan, saute onion, bacon, red pepper, and corn in olive oil over medium heat until vegetables are tender.
Stir the milk and mashed potato into the saucepan. Season with salt, pepper, and Sriracha. Stir to combine, then cover and simmer for 10 minutes being careful not to boil.
Since glass jars make me happy and they’re prettier than plastic containers, I use them to hold everything from paper clips to cookies. These quart sized jars are perfect for the corn chowder. To dress them up, trace the removable part of the lid on a piece of spare wrapping paper and cut it out, then simply place the circle of paper on top of the lid before screwing the rim back on. And who can resist some red satin ribbon?
Giving small gifts can mean the difference between a rough day and a great one — for both the giver and the recipient. What’s the last little gift you gave?
Here’s what my table looked like last weekend -
For the taste off I invited anybody who wanted to participate to submit their recipe beforehand so we didn’t have any that overlapped and so we could have them all printed. The only rule was that you couldn’t be upset if your cookie didn’t win.
Overall there were eight varieties including a few you submitted – The NY Times/Jacques Torres recipe, the Baked recipe and the classic one everybody seems to know.
Then there were score cards (available for you to print your own!) to fill out as you went on your taste journey. You could eat as many or as little as you wanted, just as long as you didn’t score your own.
We tallied those scores and whittled it down to the top two contenders. Then everybody had to try those two and decide which one was superior.
After we all were sick to our stomachs, simple kraft boxes were filled with cookies to take home and recipe cards were laid out so you could grab your favorites. I really should have sent everybody home with a bottle of Pepto-bismol.
So now I’m sure you’re wondering which recipe was the decided favorite. Well, the honors went to the Best Ever Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies (milk chocolate chips were used instead of the bittersweet chocolate).
Here’s my take on the outcome – the winning cookie was very classic, the kind that mom would make. I personally like the flavor of the browned butter variety or the NY Times recipe better but the classic type appealed to a wider audience. I guess I can’t argue with that.
A couple weeks ago I requested the best chocolate chip cookie recipes you guys had to offer with the plans of having a taste off. Well, the taste off was had and I’m spilling the details, including the crowned winner’s recipe. But first, the invitations.
I wanted to keep things simple with a black and white theme so I had my friend Kirsten come up with the design. And this is the happy result complete with a cookie peeking through the envelope.
Want to throw your own taste off? Kirsten was nice enough to offer this same design as a fillable/printable template. Time to get baking!
I used my Lifestyle Crafts Epic Tool to cut the perfect circle on the outside of the envelope.
My talented (and super domestic) friend Katie just opened up Luck No. 7 where she’ll be selling her handmade baby quilts. She has a knack of finding the most perfect fabrics (could there be a better pattern for Beck?!) and stitching them together beautifully. I can’t wait to see all of the different ones she comes up with. As you can tell by Beck’s expression, he fully supports this decision.
You know how I’m fond of surprises, mail and things in a box so Fair Ivy – a handmade surprise package subscription – reached fave status the instant I heard about it. One of the past surprises, a mug from Squack Doodle, makes me want to take up hot beverage sipping. That’s a hobby, right?
Other posts I’ve written this week that you’re sure to love:
Last week’s best of was pretty darn amazing
Handmade teepees, tents and forts for those long winter days indoors
Surviving the shortage with these helium-free balloon ideas
Spray paint can transform anything
If the pillowcase isn’t a good enough treat receptacle
Brilliant IKEA hacks
I’m also teaching my bacon class on Tuesday for anyone who would care to join me. I might allow Beck some screen time (incentive!).
Have a blissful weekend.
I’ve been meaning to do a post of Denver suggestions for a while since the question of what to do in the sunny city is often posed in my inbox. It usually comes from people who have limited time here for work since people don’t seem to come here on their own free will. Why so? It’s sunny, clean, accessible and I live here. Do I need to give more reasons than that? So if you have twenty-four hours in Denver, here’s what I would suggest you do:
- As far as a place to stay, I suggest finding a vacation rental through Enrout (it’s a whole lot easier than searching a bunch of sites) so you can feel like you lived like a local for the day. I think it would fun to stay in a little cottage over your typical motel. Cross your fingers for mints on the pillow.
- After a restful night, start the day with a heaping plate of cornflake french toast (or chicken and waffles if you’re lucky enough to go on a Thursday) at Jelly.
- Then burn off the calories by grabbing a ride from the public biking system, Bcycle. You can pedal around the capital area and end up at The Denver Art Museum for some high-brow fun.
- Afterwards, head south to hit up The Hornet or Karma (the branding isn’t pretty but the bento box lunches are fresh and delightful) for lunch. Since you’re close anyway, a trip to Fancy Tiger, Ironwood, and Sputnik (solely for the photobooth) is a must.
- For proof that hip people live outside of Brooklyn, head to Highlands Square. Munch on a whoopie pie from Happy Cakes while you browse the goods (I mean this in every sense of the word) at shops like The Perfect Petal and Word Shop.
- Depending on your food mood, head southeast for dinner at Linger, Steubens or Pinche Tacos.
- After fully stuffing yourself, hunker down with a read at Tattered Cover (or just go for the smell of books).
- Then, top your stomach off with a cake and shake at D Bar Desserts.
Hooray for Denver!
Denver skyline illustration from January Jones Prints
Sometimes I think you could give a a bag of Neccos as a gift and the recepient would still be excited if it were wrapped pretty. Here are three simple ways to make a brown paper bag gift ready instead of just cold lunch ready, all taking 5 minutes or less.
For the patterned flocking you’ll need:
- Martha Stewart Crafts Flocking Transfer Kit
All you need to do is cut the double sided sticker to size, apply the flocking sheet texture side down in and press down with a popsicle stick. Then peel and reveal. For a similar look you could also just stencil a pattern on with paint.
For the foil transfer you’ll need:
- double sided alphabet stickers
- Martha Stewart Crafts foil sheets (I tried just foil candy wrappers and it did not work)
- popsicle stick
Write out your message by applying the alphabet stickers. Place the foil sheet on top with the metallic side up and press down over the letters with a popsicle stick. Then peel (slowly) and reveal. This one’s my favorite.
For the stamped and stitched you’ll need:
- patterned stamp (I used the Martha Stewart Crafts Set Your Own Stamp Case)
- contrast thread
- sewing machine
Stamp and stitch shut.
Treat receptacles complete.
* I was not paid by Martha Stewart Crafts for this post, I just use a lot of their product.
Five ways to relish in fall this weekend:
1. Organize your cardigan collection by color
2. Bake every treat you’ve ever pinned
3. Line your walkway with pumpkins
4. Change out all your white socks with patterned ones
5. Knit a massive doily for the couch
Other posts I wrote this week that you’re sure to love:
12 of the most clever costumes I’ve come across
Fall fashion trends you’ll love
Festive Halloween decorations #1 and #2
Costumes for mom + baby (cute!)
sources: Sycamore Street Press fox card, handmade bunting (gifted), everything else from Target
To celebrate fall, why don’t you send a friend one (or all five) of these items:
the latest issue of Kinfolk
some soft pretzels (or a baked item of the pumpkin variety)
a colorful throw
a box of cool socks
a crate of gourds or mini pumpkins
Now if I could only do something about the dreary post office.