Playdates for Momme and Me

Three of Little A's friends came over to play. Then the school nurse called and had me pick Big A up from school because he had a tummy ache. It was fun and they played well together. I wanted to show you how little boys clean up. The two drawers are supposed to roll under the train table. 

Thought I'd show you Joanne's tote. We made the same tote but she put the ties on the ends. Much too much effort for me because I can be lazy about certain things. [Note her perfectly matched stripes. She makes me look bad!] Isn't her bag pretty? I love the color combinations that she choose.

While she was here, she worked on some applique. So pretty and again look at the workmanship. She takes care in basting the edges. It is amazing work considering she only started a few weeks ago. 

Look at that teeny, tiny stem!

I didn't get much work done because I was too busy trying to get these Flingers off of my ceiling. Thankfully, we quilters are resourceful and we have the right equipment! My 36" ruler came in handy in getting those suckers off of my ceiling.

The Flingers [rubbery sticky frogs that you fling like an elastic] were a big hit but they were really sticky. I'm sure that I will be finding them around the house all night or they might fall down from the ceiling onto my head.

I tried to get into a project while they were here so I worked on this snake scarf for the boys. Brainless and easy to put down.

See you later! xo, L

Hello Kitty

Both of my Berninas broke down this week. I couldn't believe it. They probably need a major servicing. I love them but I bought them used and have worked them hard the last few years. 

Thankfully, I bought this machine last fall for the kids to use. I hadn't even opened the box. Isn't it cute? The machine is very basic but it did the job in a pinch. Thanks for saving my day, Hello Kitty.
xo, L

Facebook Anyone?

As if I need another thing to do! I've finally posted something on my Facebook account after a year and a half! Be my friend! [Yes, I am still fooling around with Photoshop! Help me, it's addictive!]

xo, L

Your Favorite Tools?

The current issue of American Patchwork and Quilting is focused on tips by designers.  I am finishing a project and thinking about my most essential quilting tools. I've discovered that I don't use much fancy gear! 

1. I love my Gingher shears. I can't live without them. I have smaller Gingher scissors in various sizes but I use the shears a lot.

2. My Olfa Rotary Cutter is so fab. The blade is easy to remove in this model.

3. Fiskars. It really doesn't matter which brand that you buy, but you should have a pair of scissors for snipping fabric/thread ONLY, another for snipping fabric with fusible paper together and a separate pair of scissors with teflon blades for cutting the fusible web. 

4. Clover Seam Ripper. I absolutely love this seam ripper. I've had many others but this one is not bulky and is very sharp. Don't ask me how I know how sharp the end is.

5. Reducing Lens. I can't live without this teeny tiny viewer. It gives me great perspective whenever I'm designing.

What do use when quilting?
xo, L

Fruits of Our Labor

There aren’t enough hours in a day. Everyone knows this (except perhaps for some lucky ducks that have perfected cosmic time-juggling), as do I, but every time it’s brought to fore I still shake my head and wonder where all those hours went.

Where indeed have all those hours gone? Not here – it’s been a week since I posted last. Not in my kitchen – I haven’t really been cooking or experimenting in there either. Not shoe shopping – you don’t even want to hear about the sad state of my shoes.

Work – the hungry god to whom I feed my hours. Perhaps you have a similar hungry god in your life? Some are lucky in that this hungry god also happens to be their lives’ passion, and so feeding it is a euphoric release. For many others, this hungry god pays for their shoes (and extra virgin olive oil supply), and so must be fed at any cost. And so friends, this is what I have been up to, when I’m MIA elsewhere in life (including from this blog) – I’m feeding my hungry god.

Now you may read this and think that I’m miffed at my hungry god for chomping away at those extra hours I could have been kneading dough or having before-noon Bloody Mary’s with mum – but in truth, there is no time like now to be thankful you have a hungry god in your life. Especially a hungry god that is growing...even if this means you need to feed him round the clock. Better than a not-so-hungry god that has to cut off its limbs to survive...and woe is you if you happen to be one of those limbs.

Despite feeling weary and beat, I also feel exhilarated. My work-plate being filled to overflowing is only a sign of things going in the right direction. And getting there fast...on a whoop and a gallop. So my hungry god and I sit side by side in this rollercoaster – scary and exciting. I feed him and he feeds me. The fruits of our labor.

Pictured above are some fledgling kaimito (star apple) that has started to fruit at my organic farmer’s. Though small, they were delicious – the flesh soft, white, and silky...and so sweet! They are popping up all over the markets now, both these light green ones and the more common, and bigger, purple ones. I love them cold...straight from the fridge. The green bananas in the background were from my mom-in-law’s cousin whose family has a plantation down south. They are unbelievably sweet and creamy, although they never fully turn yellow. The green tea towel they are resting on was a gift from a dear friend I met through blogging (thank you M!) :)

No matter what you labor at...don’t forget to enjoy the fruits!

Rooting For Slumdog Millionaire

I'm rooting for this movie. Have you seen it? I loved it. Check out the Slumdog Millionaire trailer if you haven't seen the movie.
xo, L

New Talent In The House

[All photographs, copyright 2009 by Little A.]

We were at a tae kwon do tournament this Friday and Little A wanted to use the video camera.  He's always loved taking photos but he's had limited time with my camera because he puts his little fingers on the lens. Reno let him have a go at it. Wow, his video coverage was terrific. [Plus, Big A won one second place ribbon and two third place medals. Little A got a spirit medal in his Pee Wee Division. Awesome! Congrats!]

Today I went to get my haircut. I thought that the hair looked good so I wanted Reno to snap a couple of photos that I could use on my blog or new website. Let's hope that there isn't some theory about the correlation between how one perceives you and how he takes your photo. If there is, then we're in big trouble. There will never be a public display of his said photos.

Little A wanted to give it a go. I must say that they're not bad at all. Some are a bit fuzzy because he doesn't have full control.  I did crop them and applied the Seventies Action courtesy of Pioneer Woman and that was it.

Funky, edgy and cute. What a great job and he's only five. xo, L

Afternoon Talks

Little A: "Mommy, when I become a Daddy can I have kids?"
Me: [wondering where this conversation started] "Yes, but only when you're finished school and get a job."
Little A: "Ok, is that when I'm a big boy and all growed up?"
Me: "That's right."
Little A:  "Will I find a wife like you? That would be nice."
Me: "Sure and I love you."
Little A: [smiling] "Since I can't get married, can I learn how to drive the car then?"
Me:  "Sorry, you can't drive until you're 19."
Little A:  "Wow, I can't wait!" [excited as if it was going to happen tomorrow]

Finding Inspiration

When people ask me how I design, I am sometimes shy about explaining my thought processes and little things that make me tick as a designer. I don't usually sketch in an artist's sketchbook. I tried that for a while and it was ok but it didn't completely do it for me. I make quick sketches to keep ideas but I usually like grid or lined sheets and a pen to scribble.

I do most of the thinking in my head and it doesn't come out unless I have the entire book/project envisioned in my noggin. It hurts my brain.  So I need to get into the car, drive off somewhere and process. I usually try to go somewhere pretty or cool so that I can distract myself. 

I did one small trip last week. We'd been sick for about a month with colds and other illnesses. I was desperate to just get out so I drove down to Pennington. There's a shopping plaza with a knitting shop, quilt shop and a bead shop. Don't tell your better half because he or she won't want to know about it. You won't fail to find something in this block. Pennington Quilt Works is a wonderful and inspiring place. After you're done shopping, you may need to curl up in this lovely bed of theirs.

The yarn shop and bead shops are terrific too. Look at the beading in the piece above.

I love this lamp. So funky. This is one awesome bead store.  Ahhh, I feel so much better. 
xo, L

Sinampalukan Manok (Tamarind'd Chicken)

I’m as romantic as the next girl (I think) but when it comes to Valentines I prefer to spend it at home. That’s not to say I have something against this day of hearts and roses and such – I am not one to turn up my nose at romance. In fact, I think everyone should indulge! Goodness knows that we might be in a better place if we all took some time to cuddle instead of plot and scheme. And a day that makes us stop and be nice to someone else (or to ourselves!) is a good day in my book no matter how trite that sounds!

(side note: one of the things I love about writing in a blog is that I can go off-tangent as many times as I please and I can run-on sentence to my heart’s content!)

AnyWAY, Valentines = stay at home. Yes, definitely, or at least as much as I can help it. I don’t know how it is over where you are, but Valentines here is frenetic. Frenzied. Off-the-charts hysterical. Everyone is out. It’s impossible to book a table, and when you do the restaurants are packed. You can just imagine what this does to our already horrid traffic. A good day to stay home and cook.

But I didn’t! Cook that is. This Valentines C decided to cook for me :) Now, I have to say at this point that, although most of the time I cook and C washes up, it isn’t always that way. Once in a while C cooks and C washes up. Steaks, for example, are always made by C (unless I have a rub or marinade I want to try, but even then I don’t actually cook the steak). As is sinigang – the ubiquitous Filipino sour soup.

Sinigang is one of C’s favourite dishes that I never learned to he did. And how. He started by following a friend’s recipe and built his own from there. He is nowhere near the persona of voracious foodie, waxing lyrical about truffles and fennel pollen. He is still a jock through and through. But sometimes, when he suddenly sits up in the middle of the night to explain exactly how he cuts the eggplants for his sinigang or what cut of meat he will use next, I have to wonder.

So this is what he made for us for Valentines – Sinampalukan Manok. When Filipinos refer to sinigang, they are usually referring to a soup with vegetables and meat (or fish), with a souring agent added. Most commonly used is sampalok (tamarind), but around the Philippines they also use kamias (Averrhoa bilimbi), unripe mango, or guava to sour the soup. For the meat, you can use pork or beef, fish or prawns. There are a myriad of versions and combinations for sinigang but for some reason, when you use chicken, it’s called Sinampalukan Manok (literally Tamarind’d Chicken).

C doesn’t use a recipe when he cooks any of his sinigang but I can share the general framework for his Sinampalukan Manok: He boils some water (he uses a lot because he likes a lot of soup) in our biggest pot with onions (whole but peeled) and tomatoes (whole), ginger (peeled and sliced), long green chilis (sili pangsigang, whole), some gabi (taro, peeled), and patis (fish sauce). Then he adds the chicken. When the gabi is soft he fishes it out, mashes it, and returns it to the pot. This makes the soup really thick which is how we like it. He then leaves it to cook until the chicken is tender. When the chicken is almost done he adds labanos (radish, sliced), let’s it cook a bit, and then adds eggplant (sliced on the diagonal). And then he adds the sinigang mix*** (no, we don’t make it from scratch!). We taste and adjust seasoning accordingly – if it needs more salt he adds fish sauce, more sourness then he adds more sinigang mix, more heat means more chilis. We like our sininigang really sour (the type that makes your forehead knot) and really spicy. Finally he adds mustasa (mustard) leaves, which he says are the perfect greens for sinigang. Stir, take off the heat, and enjoy with lots and lots of rice!

We used the free-range chicken from our organic farmer (the same place we got our duck) so we had to cook it for much longer than our regular grocery birds. The meat had leagues more flavour though and the dark meat was much, much actual meat as opposed to poultry.

This may not seem like the most romantic dish in the world but it can’t be beat for comfort and warmth. And someone doing the cooking and washing up helps too! Thank you C for a wonderful Valentines! :)

***You can make your sinigang na sampalok or sinampalukan broth from scratch by pounding and boiling tamarind. One day we'll try that...but for now sinigang mix does it fast and right for us :) Sinigang mix is available all over the Philippines from the biggest supermarket to the littlest sari-sari store. Elsewhere in the world you can find it in any Filipino store (which you will find anywhere there are Filipinos – which means everywhere).

Happy Valentine's Day!

When I wrote my scrapbooking book, my family and friends commented on the absence of Reno. Why? Well, he's a behind the scenes kind of guy who always manages to pop OUT of the way of where the camera is pointing at. I have very few good photos of him. What matters is that he's there when I need him especially when I am going through my drama [not that I'm that dramatic] or having heart palpitations over deadlines.

We're doing little dances with our kiddos to our favorite songs, Collide by Howie Day and The Way I Am by Ingrid Michaelson. I hope that you're having a great day cuddling and dancing to your fav tunes.

Happy Valentine's Day!
xo, L

Duck Pho

Remember that basket of fresh organic produce that landed on my doorstep on my birthday last year? Well, I have been getting regular baskets since then and have been enjoying the fruits (no pun intended) of supporting a small local organic farm. It’s always lovely to receive a basket brimming with crackly-fresh veggies any day, but knowing that they were all raised without chemicals and artificial doodads, so you are getting nothing but their pure gorgeous veggie-ness...that’s another pleasure all together. Added to the fact that, for me at least, any food tastes so much better, and is appreciated that much more, when you know its provenance...from whence it came!

There is more to this small farm than just sprightly vegetables though. They also have wild ducks and chickens and (from the hens) eggs. So after a while of ordering just veggies, I decided to try the other bounty, natural and free range, that the farm had to offer. The eggs are all different sizes and colors, from the lightest dusky pink to cafe con leche tan, and have deep yellow yolks that are deliciously rich. The wild duck is leaner that the fatty white ducks you buy in the grocery and specialty stores, with a deeper, gamier flavour.

I think a little more practice with duck is in order before I do a full blown duck dish – as I’ve never really cooked duck before (although a kind fellow-blogger friend has lent me an amazing duck cookbook so I'll soon be on my way!). For my first (and so far only) wild duck (let’s call him Benicio) we boiled it with some orange rind, star anise, celery, leek, and soy. Then we made a glaze of soy, honey, Chinese cooking wine, brown sugar, and 5-spice and slathered this on the bird before roasting it (stuffed with more orange rind, a cinnamon stick, and another star anise).

We weren’t planning to boil it first but some stubborn feather nibs (I have no clue what you call the end bits of the feather) made us decide on the hot bath (and a valiant last minute effort to remove the remove the stubborn bits) before roasting. Now I am glad we did. Because then I had duck stock. And now I have duck pho.

Duck Pho
(recipe adapted from Cherry Ripe’s Duck Pho in The Accidental Foodie by Neale Whitaker)

  • 1 quarter Peking duck
  • 750 ml duck stock (I used the stock I got from boiling the duck above, but you can also make stock as I have done here with a Peking Duck)
  • 1 star anise
  • 150 grams rice vermicelli
  • Small bunch of mint
  • Small bunch of saw tooth coriander (culantro)
  • Small bunch holy basil
  • Small bunch cilantro
  • 2 spring onions, slice thinly on the diagonal
  • Lime wedges
  • Vietnamese chilli sauce
  • Fish sauce with fresh birds eye chilli, finely chopped lemongrass, sugar, and lime...shaken not stirred

- Bone the Peking duck quarter and separate the skin from the meat. Shred the meat into bite-sized pieces large enough to be easily picked up with chopsticks. Set aside.
- Put the stock and the star anise in a pot and bring to the boil. Keep at a bare simmer until ready to serve. Keep covered to avoid evaporation.
- Prepare the noodles as per package instructions. Set aside.
- De-stalk the herbs. Set aside.
- Scrape off the fat from the duck skin (phooey, I know). Place the skin between two pieces of paper towel and microwave for a few seconds – watch it, you don’t want to burn the skin! Press down on the paper towel to squeeze out oil. Change to fresh paper towel and repeat until skin is crispy. Slice and set aside.
- To serve: Place noodles in a bowl. Top with duck meat and herbs. Ladle hot broth over the top and garnish with duck skin. Serve with chopsticks and a spoon (extra points if you’ve got Chinese-style ones). Serve condiments alongside.
- Serves 2.

This is an excellent way to make use of duck stock and/or leftover Peking duck! Between the flavourful broth and the bright green assertiveness of the herbs, it makes for a satisfying meal with a lot of personality. And slurping noodles from a bowl with chopsticks always puts a smile on my face :) Cherry Ripe (oh name envy!) also uses bean sprouts, Vietnamese mint, and butter lettuce in the pho...but I didn’t have them. She also uses fried shallots and peanuts to top and adds prawn crackers among the condiments. I didn’t have those either. No matter, this was a bowl full of unapologetic flavour and we enjoyed every single slurp! A bonus: prepping the duck skin as above is an easy and effective way of reviving it!

Happy weekend, and an advanced happy Valentine’s Day everyone! I hope you all do something you love on the day that celebrates love :) Yes, celebrating your love for bacon or your love for reading comic books in the can counts in my book – just light a candle and be celebratory about it ;) We will be lazy and eat in – something we love doing (especially during Valentine’s when restaurants are packed)! And we’ll be using part of today’s veggie basket while we are at it! :)

Life Cont'd

Following the excitement that I had on Saturday, Sunday was a busy, busy day. At 10 a.m., Adam has his tae kwon do testing. [Congrats!] Then, from 1:30 on, we were going non-stop until 8p.m. with Chinese school, and their New Year's concert and banquet. It was fun and we were tired. We did win a bagful of Trader Joe's goodies. Yummy!

It has been gorgeous outside. I love it and I can't wait for spring. Meanwhile, I have photos of these beautiful arrangements on my inspiration wall. I love these arrangements by Saipua and the rest of her site is filled with beauty.

On top of all of the events going on this past weekend, I have been up to my eyeballs in finishing up a project. So, my work area looks like a disaster. It is a bright, happy and fun disaster though. I'm not complaining, just sayin'. When you work, are you neat or is it all over the place? I like to stack all of my fabrics in piles [see my other tips here and in the latest issue of American Patchwork and Quilting.] so that I can pull from them easily.
xo, L

Unexpected Guests

We had some unexpected visitors last week. A rowdy bunch of crustaceans found their way to my doorstep...gifted to us by C’s godfather after their trip to the beach. C came home lugging a biggish, weave basket, announcing that we had fresh crabs.

Fresh crabs...yay!!!

Wait a minute...fresh crabs mean live crabs right? I looked at the basket, then at C, and I realized – although I have eaten crabs many, many times in my life, I have never dealt with live ones before. Uh-oh. I opened the basket, gave it a gentle shake, and took a tentative peek – multiple pairs of crab-eyes waved back at me. Stay calm, I told myself, before grabbing the phone to call a friend who also happens to be a fantastic cook. The conversation went something to the tune of me having a mini-fit trying to get 20 live, crawling crabs into the biggest basin I owned, while my friend laughed and pointed out quite needlessly, “You’re freaking out!

After much hilarity, he did give me the basic how-to on what to do, and what not to do, with my new pets, along with ideas on how to use them (I also consulted this terrific post). What I couldn’t do though was cook them right away because I had already prepared a BIG pot of chilli for dinner and I had nowhere near enough time to deal with the crabs. So, with assurances that they would indeed survive overnight, I left them in their basin, fretting like a nervous host over whether I should feed them or not, and if so what they should eat.

Sometime in the middle of dinner, we heard and scuffle and a thump and rushed to the basin and discovered that the crabs had formed a kind of crab-ladder with their bodies so that their mates could climb up and escape***! And one fellow already did! After a brief moment of discussion, and some worried murmuring from me about crabs crawling around the flat at night and getting into our bed, we decided to cook them right then and there! C got out biggest pot out; we passed around some beers, and got on with the business of, um, as my uncle called it – la matanza del cangrejo.

I won’t go into details here in consideration for the squeamish. Simply put, as we couldn’t eat them all, we boiled them and stored them (some in the fridge and some in the freezer). C and my cousin Y surprisingly rose to the occasion – a little too enthusiastically in fact! And at the end of it all, when the steaming hot, bright red crabs came out, all I could think of was how we were going to prepare them!

We had the first batch the very next day, steamed (just to heat them up again) in a bamboo steamer with wedges of lemon and sprigs of cilantro thrown in. I tossed knots of lemongrass into the steaming water to add another layer of fragrance. They were beyond delicious. Fresh white crabmeat, sweet and tender, eaten with our hands...dunked in C’s special dipping sauce, juices dripping from our fingers, as we recalled the night of “la matanza” like two old hands exchanging war tales.

The rest of the crab is safely tucked away in the freezer – waiting for me to decide what to do with them. I already have a few ideas, but suggestions are very much welcome!

So friends, keep yourself open to surprise, don’t buy into old ways of thinking, and always have room for unexpected guests! :)

***That part was actually incredible to see and would deserve a whole separate post of dissertation on the fallacies of “crab mentality” – a condition that I am now convinced exists only in humans! They should call it human-mentality and keep the crabs out of it!

Interesting Conversation ...

going on here.

I told you that Mark Lipinski interviewed me for the current issue of his magazine, Quilter's Home. Well, Joann's won't carry this particular issue and the reasons are here. Check out the talk on this issue [Jan. 30th post on his blog].

xo, L

Cramming Things.

It has been a crazy week and a crazy weekend. I have some deadlines but this time, they seem to fade in the background compared to everything else. I know that I have been talking a lot about knitting lately. It's been the simplest thing that I have been able to show you while I have been working on quilting stuff that I can't show you!

I've been working on my new website and that had to be pushed back a week as well. While we're on the topic, is there anything that you'd want to see on a quilt designer's website? Do you like tutorials? Patterns for download? Just plain ol' promotional stuff? Just asking because the site is a work in progress. Let me know, I'd love to hear.

On Saturday I needed some inspiration so I headed out to Maplewood, NJ. Reno took both kiddos to a birthday party [Happy b-day, Gavin!]. I'd never been to this city but I was told of a nice yarn shop there. Since I needed color inspiration, I thought that it would fit the bill. The Knit Knack lived up to my expectations. It is a little gem in the middle of a little town that I don't think I'll ever visit any time soon. Why? I will explain later.

Her samples are lovely and tempting. The colors, textures and yarns are oh so luscious.

Even their little lamb is well-dressed!

Check out the gorgeous sweater on the left. That's Wrenna from the new French Girl Knits book knit in Twinkle's Soft Chunky yarn. Yummy!

Take a look at the super cool yarn winder. We all need one of these for sure.

Come closer and take a peek. No cranking. Just press a button on the front and away you go. Wheeeee!

Oh yeah, why won't I come back any time soon? As I was leaving, there were 5 police cars attending to some emergency in the block where I parked. So, I went around the block to head back home. As I waited for the light to change, there was a suspect just at the right side of the front of my car talking to a police officer. Suddenly, the suspect turned and ran with the officer in hot pursuit.

That's too much excitement for me and this little trip was only the beginning of my weekend. I need to rest before the next installment of my weekend. Whew!
xo, L

Valentine's Sale!

I will be participating in Olio United's Valentine's Sale on Thursday, Feb. 12th! They are going to have amazing gifts to give your sweetheart... a wide selection of jewelry, beautiful succulents, alma chocolate and packages from Loly spa! Please visit for more information!

I am headed to the East coast to visit family and friends. I'm so excited! I'll be away Feb 11-21st so any orders placed in my shop won't be shipped until after I return.

I will be participating in the S.E. Area Art Walk on the last Saturday in Feb. I'll be set up in front of P. Town Scooters on Division and 32nd. Come stop by!

**The webshop is looking very bare, I apologize for it's emptiness... but I promise I've been busy making tons of new pieces. They've just yet to make it up there. So expect major shop updates in March!


As I was sitting at my desk trying hard not to think about the cold and all of the work that I have ahead of me in the next week, I started playing with Picnik.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the site, it is a photo-editing website where you load up your photos and have some fun [for free!]. Well, you can buy into the premium package but the free one is just as fun.  There's lots to do. There are greeting cards and collages like the one above and you can add text and stickers to your photos.  Try the Polaroid frame like I did below. [How sad that Polaroid film is no longer being made. However, some enthusiasts are trying to make new film fit for the old cameras. I digress. Read about it here.]

A simple drop shadow frame is cool enough.
Wait a minute, what does this have to do with quilting/sewing? Pick any or all answers below.
a) Not a lot.
b) I did buy 7 Polaroid instant cameras from a lady who was having a garage sale as I was driving back from a quilt shop in Pennsylvania a few years ago.
c) You can print these cool pics onto photo transfer fabric paper and make wee gifts for Valentine's or any other special occasion.

Breakfast #25: Herby Eggs

Fresh herbs are a wonder to cook with. Nothing really matches the zingy brightness that makes their presence felt in a way that their dried cousins never can achieve. I love having fresh herbs always at the ready...ready to be called to action at any moment. I dream of having big pots of them scattered around the kitchen, where I could tear off handfuls of herby sprigs and toss them into my dishes like some twittering Food Network diva.

I pause while I imagine myself in soft focus, whispering sexy-sweet nothings into a hot bubbling pot without so much as breaking a sweat...

Alright. Moving right along. Most of the time, I’m not whipping up dishes that call for a fresh bunch of herbs meal after meal. By mid-week, the little fragrant bouquets that were so full of promise in the beginning start to look alarmingly glum. They are plucked at, having been used for this dish and that, but always left with some sullen wilty sprigs that have lost their purpose in life. Which is so sad really – such a waste for one (even a few sprigs of herbs left to rot is food waste and you know I want to avoid that!) and, my goodness, we all have a purpose! Even a few melancholy leftover herb sprigs.

This is one of my favourite ways to use, or give new purpose to, odd bits of leftover herbs. Quite reinventing the wheel here surely, as I’m sure loads of you do this, but just in case ;) These eggs make me so happy in the morning, when I am usually an incoherent amoeba until my first cup of coffee. The transcendent simplicity of good scrambled eggs shot through so thoroughly with greens always heralds a fresh, bright start.

This is so straightforward that it doesn’t even warrant a recipe. For two eggs (which would serve one me) I would use a couple of sprigs of whatever herbs I have lurking in the crisper. Use what you’ve got, you’ll be surprised how unlikely combinations can work so well under the auspices of a good egg. Pick the leaves off and roughly chop – I used about two tablespoons of chopped herbs here – they aren’t a garnish...the eggs should be bursting at the seams with them. For this dish I used parsley, dill, and green onion (sliced). Heat some olive oil in a pan (butter will do nicely too). Add the white parts of the green onions first – if I’m using green onions or leeks I like to sauté the white parts first just to soften a bit...about 10 seconds is good. I then pour in the eggs (which I have whisked lightly already) and cook as I did here...which is how I like my scrambled eggs. Add the herbs right before it's done. When done to your liking, quickly pile it on some toast and enjoy warm. You can choose to garnish the eggs further with other leftovers that may be vying for your attention. I put a dollop of caviar on top here – left over by a friend after a fun afternoon of shooting a “cooking party” for a local food magazine (more on that when it’s published!). Cheese would also be a fantastic addition to the eggs – tossed in while cooking.

Lovely, invigorating breakfast and leftover herbs’s good to feel this purposeful in the morning :)

Where, Oh Where Have I Been?

Well, I've been coughing up a storm with cold number "gumungus" [newly made up word by 5-year old scholar]. I didn't want to whine about another cold and scare away all of my readers.

So, I couldn't focus on much but I did manage to make this purse from a Quilter's Illustrated pattern. It was fast and fun. Plus, I needed a diversion so someone else's pattern suit the bill. Now, I need to buckle down and work on some designs of my own.

In the meantime, I made these little photo books. One was for my Mom because she wanted one of her grandkids. She wanted to be able to whip it out of her purse whenever she wanted to show them off to her friends. The other book was for our dear friend, Emily who moved away this past weekend.  I thought that an album of some of the photos that I have taken of her for the past few years would be a great gift. She loved it!

Here's the cover of the two books:

My nephew and Alex:

My boys:

Back to regular programming soon. xo, L

HHDD #25: Sugar Grilled Chicos with Wild Honey Yogurt

It seems our brief period of “winter” has come to an end, lasting just under a month. For a while our whole city revelled in the under 22C weather, everyone wanting to eat outdoors in the cool breezes. Suddenly jackets and scarves and boots-wid-da-fur were being paraded out on the streets. There was an actual chill in the air and every person who sweated out 11 months of tropics wanted a piece of the action.

Now the chill is gone, we are back to using the a/c at night, and the sun has come out again to remind me who’s boss. But even as I fuss, you and I know that I love being in the sun – swimming in the sea, wearing tank tops and flip flops all year, and the vibrant tropical fruits! Mango is at the very top (come over here to try the very best in the world!), followed by mangosteens, pineapple, jackfruit, and banana. And then there is this little fellow – the chico. The chico (sapodilla) is a non-descript little brown ball...kinda scruffy and certainly not as beguiling in appearance as his other tropical brothers. The flesh is likewise brown and quite plain looking. The taste however is something else entirely. Its juicy, sandy meat has a sweetness that is at once caramelly and boozy (sometimes I feel I taste coffee...but that could just be me). I love this fruit!

I have been thinking of other ways to eat it, aside from straight with a teaspoon, ever since I baked it in a clafoutis for Hay Hay It’s Donna Day and discovered that chicos cook rather deliciously! So it’s only fitting that I bring them to service again for another round of HHDD. This time co-hosted by Tartasacher of Mil Postres***

Tartasacher chose a simple but luscious recipe from Donna Hay -- Sugar Grilled Fruits and Cinnamon Yogurt. The original recipe uses figs and pears, but as fresh figs are just a fantasy over here, I decided to use my much-loved chico. To excellent results! Instead of using regular brown sugar, I used our local muscovado which is dark and earthy. Grilling the raw sugar on the fruit heightened the dark, molasses personality of the chico, and gave it a gorgeously sweet crust as well. Let me say...this will not be the last time I sugar-grill chicos! For the yogurt, I mixed in a local wild honey (instead of the cinnamon) whose strong flavour stood up well to the wildly-caramel sugar-grilled chicos. This is a wonderful treat to have for breakfast. You can even serve them up in shot glasses like I did here to make a sophisticated light dessert.

I still hold an illogical hope that the cool breezes will return this month...even if only for a short while (aren’t the arctic winds suppose to come down in the middle of February?). Meanwhile I’ll comfort myself with sugar-grilled chicos :)

***A tie in HHDD’s last round had Meeta of What’s for lunch, Honey? and Tartasacher of Mil Postres co-hosting this round. Meeta chose the savory theme with delicious Chicken Satay (my entry here) and Tartasacher chose the sweet theme with these lovely sugar grilled fruits! Hay Hay It’s Donna Day was created by Barbara of Winos and Foodies and is now under the care of Bron of Bron Marshall.