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So, this was a collaborative project that I worked on with my mom and husband, that my grandparents started. They had this huge three ring binder full of photos and stories and ephemera collected over the years. There are all of these great stories from the lives of my grandparents- growing up on farms during the depression, experiences they had while stationed with the Air Force in various foreign countries, as well as many stories of people they met. The problem was that there was only one copy of this cumbersome treasure. My mom had the idea to have it bound, and to have a few copies made, so that each grandchild could have a copy, as well as one for my grandparents. So she sent me to ubuildabook.com to see if I was interested in helping her make it happen. And I was! Here’s the final product:

We are all so happy with the books. My grandparents especially- they were so touched and amazed that we organized their memories in such a permanent way, and made it so that they can share them with others- there is an option with ubuildabook to order more copies without an extra fee, with a few reasonable restrictions. And the turnaround time was surprisingly fast! We received the books within a week of placing the order. It was amazing!
Making the book itself was pretty easy. We decided to scan the pages as they were found in the book, instead of re-typing and editing them; I didn’t feel that it was our place, and my grandfather had spent a lot of time working on his own layout (and page numbering system!) that we felt it was charming the way it was. Basically, you download the layout software from the ubuildabook website, and start at it! My mom and husband did all of the scanning- there were about 120 pages in all. Then I uploaded each image (page) into the program, and made each double page spread using those images. Making the pages themselves was really pretty easy… perhaps more so because I was on my high school’s award-winning yearbook staff, but I think that most people could figure out what to do. If not, you can call them, and they are quite helpful (I had a question after I placed my order). There are so many options for the layout and design of your book, which I didn’t really use, other than for the cover. It makes me want to go back and design a baby book, or perhaps compile my favorite recipes! Really the options are endless.
Here are a few of my favorite pages:

Those are my Great Grandparents Mary and Pete. Included in the book is a recipe for bread that she would make often- we called it G’Mary Bread. I was pretty excited to try out the recipe, and made it within the first 24 hours of having the printed book in my hot little hands. Now, you might remember that I’m not an experienced bread baker. Let’s just say I need a few more tries. Here’s what came out of it:

G’Mary Bread

1 qt (4 c) potato water
2 tbsp shortening
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp dark molasses
1 tbsp anise seed
1 pkg granulated yeast soaked in a little water with sugar
1 c rye meal
white flour

Stir everything but the flours together, add the rye meal. Keep adding white flour to the right consistency, and until it loosens from hands.

Let it rise until it raises double in bulk.

Punch down and let rise a second time.

Make into loaves and let rise.

Bake on a hot cookie sheet for 1 hour at 375F.

Perhaps you can see where and why I ran into trouble. The recipe is just a little vague. First off, potato water?!? I boiled some potatoes to mash up for my daughter, and was pleased to not have to waste that good potato water… but I was a little uncertain when I got to the yeast-water-sugar action. I ended up putting the yeast in a little dish, adding about a 1/4 teaspoon sugar, and 2 tablespoons warm water. I stirred it let it sit for a few minutes, and it got bubbly and thick so I figured I was off to a good start. I added the rest of the ingredients up to the rye flour, and then I got a little worried. It was so watery! Shouldn’t there be more rye flour? I remember this being a very savory bread… I started adding the white flour. Things got really sticky really fast, and about 3 cups in I abandoned the wooden spoon and started kneading with my hands. By the time I got to cup 5 or 6, I lost count. The dough just wasn’t pulling away from my hands, and I had no idea what the “right consistency” looked or felt like. I think there ended up being about 8 cups of white flour total in there! The dough was DENSE. Good thing I ran out of flour. Who knows how many more cups I would have added, before deciding it was never going to pull away from my hands? I put it in a warm oven that I’d turned off, in a bowl covered with a towel.
Then I went to bed.
I got up at 4:30 the next morning and gave it a few good punches (should I only have punched it once?), and went back to bed.
Then, at 9, my daughter supervised with a critical face as I divided the dough into two huge and heavy balls to let rise once more, for about an hour. (There was no moving those loaves to the preheated cookie sheet, but I think that would’ve been too much because the loaves were a bit brown on the underside anyway.) Then we baked! The bread smelled delicious and at the end of the hour, my mouth was so ready for some fresh bread action, and I was so curious as to how I did. I sawed at one of the hot loaves- the crust was really hard- but got a nice thick (and yes, dense) slice.  Oh my. Much heavier than I remembered, but really good!
I took the uncut loaf over to my grandparents to see how it measured up to the bread in their memories, and they admitted that mine was much heavier, but that “it’s hard to get the amount of flour right,” said my grandma. Fair enough. My mom said that we’d make the next batch together when we’ve got my great aunt on the phone, who’s made it several times before. I can’t wait, because I think that it would make a really tasty grilled Daiya and Fieldroast sandwich! Here are my warm slices, covered in Earth Balance:

I discovered with the next slice that olive oil makes an even better topper! I’m really happy that we were able to give this gift to my grandparents, and that I now have this recipe to work on my bread skills with. My great grandma was a true animal lover, and I’m so happy that I was able to keep that spirit alive with some tasty vegan bread. If you try this recipe, let me know how it goes.

My little girl and I are going on a trip next week, to see my best friend in California! We will be traveling by plane, which is FREAKING ME THE F*CK OUT. I picture my little terror sweet bebe, screaming and whining and squirming throughout the entire flight each way as I am the meanest mommy EVER to not let her roam freely throughout the cabin, greeting the other passengers. So, I’ve armed myself with a sack full of never-before-seen toys and books to pull out one by one as the minutes creep by while we are confined in the air- one for each flight, actually! Of course, I needed some fresh new containers for this trip- I have a reputation for being “well-contained” to hold up. Enter the Simple Drawstring Sack. I have been making such sacks for various occasions over the last few years (lunch sacks, snack sacks, camera accessory sacks, dirty clothes while traveling sacks, lingerie/sock sacks, gift sacks…), after my friend in Japan sent me 2 small ones that she’d made.
This is the most easily modified to suit your needs project that one could think up. Each one that I do is different, depending on whether or not I have finished selvage edges (like I did this time), whether or not my fabric is one piece or two (here I had one)… and so on. I was able to make these 2 bags in about 45 minutes while watching a show and taking photos between most of the steps. Let’s get started!

Here’s what you’ll need:

fabric- just a bit more (by a few inches) than double the size you want your sack to be
drawstring material- double the width of your sack (I usually use bias tape because I like the colors that are available, and it’s sturdy)
coordinating thread
pins (optional)
scissors
2 safety pins
sewing machine
ironing situation
For all seams I used a half-inch seam allowance. Really, you can do whatever you want to though. French seams would be really nice!
First off, if you are working with two panels (instead of just folding one large panel in half to make the sack like I did), stitch them together right sides together down one side. Press open the seam. If the edges are unfinished on the other sides, you’ll want to finish the top edge where the drawstring will come out. I usually will do this to the top 2 inches, folding over 1/4″ from the side edge, and then another 1/4″, pressing and then top stitching.
If you are working with just one panel with finished edges like I was, here we go! Start out by making the channel at the top of the sack for the drawstring: fold over and press 1/2″ or so (just make sure it’s wider than whatever you’re using for the drawstring! I like to be generous here. Why not?) along the top unfinished edge of your fabric. Fold over another 1/2-3/4″ and press. Pin it down if it makes you feel better… And don’t mind my cat.

Zip on over to your sewing machine and top stitch that puppy down! As you can see here, I’m using a generous 5/8″ seam allowance. Of course, if you have a thin cord that you’re using to cinch your sack, this might be considered excessive. MAYBE. Be sure to back stitch at each end to reinforce the seam. It sure would be sad if you lost your contents!

Now that you have your channel all finished and pretty, let’s spread it out and take stock. As you can see here, I took the easy road. This is a half-yard of fabric, folded in half lengthwise. If you’d not had those finished edges and needed to turn in the upper edge, now would be the time to make a little snip in the fabric just below the channel so that it’ll smooth out nicely when you stitch up the side. Clip in just to the point where the seam allowance will be… Once you do that, the fabric will lay flat when it’s sprawled out on your rug (or table if you’re fancy). If you’re extra fancy, you’ll probably use pins. Again, I winged it. Is that why my seam ripper and I are so tight?

Now you’re ready to turn this into the sack it’s destined to be! Start right where that channel stitch hits (or right where you’ve clipped they should be really close), and go down the side and along the bottom edge. Again, be sure to back stitch at the beginning and end.

Clip the corners at the bottom of the sack to keep it from getting bulky, especially if you’re making a wee sack:

Now it’s time to install your drawstring. I cut mine to be just a bit longer than double the width of my sack- so that when it’s open all the way, the only part of the drawstring visible is the knot. Attach one end of the drawstring to the bag just below the channel using a safety pin. Attach a safety pin to the other end of the drawstring.

Thread the loose end with the safety pin through one of the channel ends of the bag. Since I used bias tape, and one edge of it has an open fold, I positioned my tape so that the opening would face the bottom of the channel, giving it a more finished look with the folded edge being at the top. Feel the safety pin on the inside of the channel and work it through, gathering up the fabric around the pin, and then pulling the fabric over the drawstring while keeping the safety pin moving forward in the channel, like this:

Eventually the safety pin and the drawstring will emerge out the other end of the channel, right next to where you began. Snazzy huh? I am really good at this thanks to all of the scrunchie making I did in middle school.

The hard work is done! And it wasn’t even that hard, was it? Tie a (simple overhand) knot using both ends of the drawstring lined up together. Turn the bag inside out and press. You’re done! All that’s left to do is fill it with toys and snacks and underwear and head out for your adventure! Wish us luck.

from Viva Vegan! by Terry Hope Romero

For the Dressing:
1/2 lb ripe red tomatoes
1/2 c diced sweet white onion
1/2 green, red, or yellow bell pepper, seeded and diced (I chose yellow)
3 cloves garlic, chopped coarsely (or, ahem, 7…)
1 green chile pepper, seeded and chopped
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp dried oregano (I used about 2 tbsp fresh)
1/2 tsp salt
a pinch of sugar (optional)
freshly ground pepper
For the Salad:
4 c spinach, washed well and torn into bite-size pieces
1 (14-oz) can hearts of palm, drained, rinsed, and sliced
2 c or 1 (14-oz) can cooked black beans, rinsed
1/2 c toasted chopped Brazil nuts
1/2 large sweet white onion, sliced into thin strips

To make the dressing, combine all the ingredients in a blender or food processor and pulse until smooth. Use immediately or store tightly covered in the fridge for up to a week. To make the salad, toss the salad ingredients together.

Oh, SWOON! Lately I’ve discussed with people they might choose to eat only and forever… if you could only eat one food. My husband chose Pizza Research Institute’s vegan chef’s choice pizza, or avocado if limited to just one ingredient. I would have chosen almonds. Until now. I was flipping through the book, looking for a salad, and was absolutely giddy when I saw Brazil nut in the title. I’d joked that I was going to name my firstborn child Brazil Nut, I love them so. Don’t worry, that’s not actually my daughter’s name. I totally chickened out.
Anyhoo, this salad! It’s so refreshing yet solid. It makes four good sized servings, and there was enough dressing to top our steamed broccoli the next night. The hearts of palm, black beans, and nuts add weight, and give such a great texture variety. And that dressing! Of course it was pretty spicy with all of that garlic, but I wouldn’t change it at all! The sweet onion is what really makes me want this salad nonstop though. And what a healthy salad, provided that I can keep from going overboard with the nuts.
This cookbook has so many good looking recipes that will keep me trying new ingredients, which I’m so excited about. One recipe that I saw that I won’t be trying, as it looks too dangerous- churros! I’d eat the entire batch. We can’t have that, so you’ll just have to check out this cookbook on your own. You won’t regret it.

from Babycakes by Erin McKenna

3 1/2 c whole spelt flour
1 tbsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 c coconut oil, plus more for the pans
1 1/3 c agave nectar
3/4 c unsweetened applesauce (there’s a recipe for homemade in this book! i took the slacker route and used store-bought…)
3 tbsp pure vanilla extract
2 c hulled and sliced strawberries
vanilla frosting (recipe to follow)

Preheat the oven to 325F. Line the bottoms of three 8 x 3-inch round cake pans with circles of parchment paper and coat lightly with oil.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add 1 cup oil and the agave nectar, applesauce, and vanilla directly to the dry ingredients and stir until the batter is smooth.

Pour the batter into the prepared pans. Bake the cakes on the center rack for 22 minutes, rotating the pans 180 degrees after 12 minutes. The finished cakes will be golden brown, and a toothpick inserted in the center will come out clean.

Let the cakes stand in the pans for 20 minutes, then gently run a knife around the edges, cover the top of each pan with a cutting board, and flip over. Carefully lift the pan away and re-invert the cake onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Place one cake layer on a serving plate or a cake stand. With a frosting spatula, gently spread vanilla frosting over the top. Scatter enough strawberries over the frosting to completely cover it. Place a second layer on top, right side up, and spread with more frosting. Add another layer of strawberries. Place the final layer on top, domed side down. Spread the top with frosting and arrange strawberries over it decoratively. Cover the cake with a dome and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Makes 16 slices.

Vanilla Frosting
1 1/2 c unsweetened soy milk
3/4 c dry soy milk powder
1 tbsp coconut flour
1/4 c agave nectar
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 c coconut oil
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

In a blender or a food processor, combine the soy milk, soy powder, coconut flour, agave nectar, and vanilla. Blend the ingredients for 2 minutes. With the machine running, slowly add the oil and lemon juice, alternating between the two until both are fully incorporated. Pour the mixture into an airtight container and refrigerate for 6 hours or for up to 1 month. (If you plan to use it as a sauce, store the mixture at room temperature for up to 1 week.) Makes enough to frost 24 cupcakes.

I made this cake and frosting for my daughter’s smash cake at her first birthday party a few weeks ago. I was nervous that she wouldn’t be such a great sport and would be uninterested in whatever cake I put in front of her, thus thwarting my visions of a frosting covered baby I so desired for her party photos. I wasn’t willing to lure her in with too much sugar- I refuse to sacrifice her nap schedule for anything! Alas… strawberries. Strawberries shoved avocado out of the solid #1 position in my daughter’s food ranks weeks before the party, but would the position hold? Should I go with the first, tried and true love, zucchini? No, strawberries are delightful this time of year, and slabs of zucchini might look unusual in my prized smash cake photos. Hello Sweet Paradise Cake! Thanks for coming through for us again, Babycakes. She loved her cake, as you can see here:

The cake was actually quite tasty. Instead of the three 8-inch rounds, I did two 9-inch ones for the rest of the guests, and one 6-inch one for the smash cake. It worked really well! Of course the baking times took some serious adjustment, less for the larger pans, and much more for the smaller, and taller, one. I lost track of the time it took, but let’s say it’s a good thing I bought that extra box of toothpicks! My mom came over the next day to help, and I put her to work frosting the cakes. She did a lovely job! She showed me this great trick- before setting the unfrosted cake down on the plate or cake stand, put down some strips of parchment paper where the edge will meet the plate, that you can slide out when you’re finished frosting. That way, you don’t have to worry about keeping the plate clean! It was such a great idea. I hate a messy plate around a beautiful food item! We opted not to put the strawberries on top, since we didn’t want the frosting to get watery-pink before the party. Turned out I was too crunched for time to put them on just before serving it, having to make picnic sandwiches, decorations, and these cupcakes for the party. Who knew that preparing a birthday party for someone who won’t even remember the day would be so time consuming and stressful? Oh yeah, moms that have done it before, that’s who.
Like the cupcakes, this cake is not too sweet. But the flavor is sooooo good. At first when I sampled the frosting by itself, I swore it wasn’t sweet enough, and contemplated dumping confectioner’s sugar in. I’m glad I refrained! It was such a nice complement to the cake, I’m so glad I didn’t change a thing.
Overall, we had a really great day. The rainy spring gave us one sunny day in the middle of what seemed like a month of solid rain and cold. Here’s the dress that I made a few months back- perhaps you remember my very first project on this blogging adventure?

Well, it is still just a little on the big side, which is actually kind of a relief because it seems like everything else is too small for her anymore. Other than a skinned knee on her good buddy, and a skinned nose on the birthday girl (she’s new to bipedalism and got a little ahead of herself), I must say that her party was a big success.
Happy First Birthday, baby girl. Thank you for the best year of my life, with excitement of more to come. I’m so blessed to have you in my life. I love you more than I could have ever imagined!

Oof. It may not look like much, but this is a biggie. I say that because it’s not just my bedroom closet- I’m working on ALL of the closets in our house. After a few trips to Goodwill, a trip to Buffalo Exchange, much sorting and tossing, here we are. It all started with my childproofing efforts- my need to get those cleaning supplies, plastic bags, cat hair tumbleweeds, and bottles of wine out of my speedy daughter’s reach. Yes, I know that there’s nothing like adult supervision to keep a baby safe, but I have visions of myself losing consciousness and her gnawing her way into a lower cabinet (those little teeth have needs…) to get to those lemon fresh cleaning supplies. Hence the big clean. I’m sure the checkers at Target saw me coming and whispered to each other: It’s her- the Itso bin collector. I bet she’s got a crazy hoard! Well, it’s true. But my hoard is organized, and it’s much smaller than it used to be. I put five of the Itso bins on that upper shelf there- on either side of the jeans stack, and they house out-of-season shoes, scarves, and handbags. Lots of handbags. I found that snazzy hanging shoe holder at The Container Store, and the (double sided and double awesome) jewelry organizer is from Mary Kay. Here’s a closer look at that action:
This project went beyond the bedroom. I did the laundry closet, both hall closets, and all of the cabinets in the bathrooms and kitchen. The only thing that I wish I could change at this point is the closet wall color! They look so blank and ugly compared to all of my pretty and organized bins. I still have a lot of work to do- various bookshelves throughout the house are full of boxes of old photographs and art supplies. Knowing that I don’t have huge messes piled up in my closets is such a relief. Having started the project and working on it slowly (I started in March!), one closet at a time, made this project so easy to handle.
Here’s the hall closet. Sorry about the sad photos; there is a wall where I would have liked to have stood in order to have taken the ideal photo. Sigh.

This one really drove home the fact that I don’t need so much in the way of toiletry back stock! I don’t know what it is, but I have a fear that I’m going to run out of lotion and that will be my fate- dry skin forever! Silly me. Perhaps one bottle in my stock would suffice, not three. I’m working on it. And can we talk about lip gloss and eye shadow? I’d better start piling it on if I’m going to use it all in this life time.
Well, if you wonder where I am in the next few weeks, I’ll be tackling my craft supply mayhem. Before this it was a task that the thought gave me such anxiety. But now I think I can handle it.

from Prudent Baby

How much am I in love with this site? I could spend days here. These two woman crank out a project a day (if not more, it seems), and probably never wear the same thing twice. They take really great photos of the projects as they’re making them, which makes the tutorial so easy to follow and understand. Plus, they pick out all of these great fabrics, making me feel super inspired. Jaime posted this one (Jacinda is her partner in prudent crime), and mentioned that this is a really great project to start out with if you have never installed a zipper. I completely agree.
She tells you the dimensions that she used for the makeup bag in the tutorial, but you can make the bag as large or small or wide or tall as you’d like. Fun, right? For this project I started out making two smaller bags- with supplies I already had. I was a little disappointed by their size, which I determined based on my zipper length. Perfect for a mini makeup kit (if you’re like me, that is), for in your purse. I gave one to my good friend just before she took her beautiful toddling daughter on a flight, and she kept her little toys in there! She loves it, so we’re all happy. But me, I require a BIG makeup bag. I don’t like cramming my prettymaking supplies into a small bag, so I went out in search of some fabric that I love. And some bigger zippers! I ended up making four of those (yes, I like to make multiples. I love to give gifts!). I’d say my total work time on them was four hours? And that’s a generous estimate.
My favorite part of this project is the opportunity to showcase two great fabrics- so often I am sold on a jacket or bag because of the lining fabric. See the lining in that wee bag? That was from a rather large scrap that said friend handed down to me. It seemed to please her greatly to see how I’d used it. Enjoy it, Sug! xoxo

from Simple Sewing by Lotta Jansdotter

If you’ve never sewn before and want to start, here’s the project for you! This was even more simple than the crib sheet that I made… and it functions beautifully! There are two magazines AND a paperback in that middle pocket! Plus, having your lip balm and hand lotion so close throughout the night is priceless. I started this project a couple of years ago, as a wedding gift for my friend. Today she brought her wee son over, and I was finally able to give it to her! I had packed the entire project away after cutting it out so that we could remodel our house, and totally forgot about it. I found it a few weeks ago, and it’s haunted me ever since. I wasn’t looking forward to doing all of that edge stitching on the red bias tape (which isn’t a part of the pattern) on my old sewing machine. That was one reason I’d put it off… so when I bought my new machine a few weekends ago, I had no excuse! Here’s a photo of the new machine, while I was sewing the lining. You don’t see the lining on the bed pocket because it’s on the underside. Too bad!

The pattern itself is pretty easy to follow, and you can make a bed pocket for a twin, queen, or king sized bed. I’m sure you could make adjustments if you had a full sized bed to fit as well. The only issue I had was that you don’t see the lining! Of course, this makes sense… when you line a dress, you don’t see the lining there, right? Silly me. I would have chosen prettier fabric for the main panels, rather than for the lining. That’s why I added the red bias tape around the edges  (instead of sewing the lining and main panel together right sides together at the end, I just sealed it all up with the bias tape on either sides, and across the main panel bottom edges). It was SO easy. One important thing about bias tape though, if you’re new to it- it’s important that you DO NOT pull on it as you press it, or as you sew it. It gets wrinkly and distorted. I didn’t know this until my mom educated me. Thanks mom! Kristen, I hope that you enjoy your bed pocket. Congrats on your wedding, way back when…

from The Vegetarian Mother’s Cookbook by Cathe Olson

1 c rolled oats
1/4 c almonds
1 c whole wheat, spelt, or barley flour (I used spelt)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 c raisins
1 c mashed ripe bananas (2 to 3 bananas)
egg replacer for 1 egg
1/3 c oil
3 tbsp blackstrap molasses
1/4 c plain nondairy yogurt

Preheat oven to 375F. Lightly oil muffin tins. In food processor or blender, grind oats and nuts to a course meal. Transfer to a mixing bowl and whisk in flour, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon. Stir in raisins. Beat remaining ingredients together until smooth. Add to oat mixture and stir just until mixed. Pour batter into prepared tins. Bake 20 minutes, or until tops are firm to the touch.

I had some bananas sitting on my counter turning spotty and brown faster than we could eat them. I thought banana bread, but then I saw this recipe, and since I was kind of on a muffin kick…
These muffins would most definitely fall into the health muffin variety. Little dense morsels of molassesy goodness, I’ll tell you what. There was no need for Earth Balance here, and I could have eaten three or four of these in a sitting. Molasses is a sweetener that’s actually quite good for you- supplying vitamins and minerals, and almonds are a superfood! I think they’d be really good with wee apple chunks in them, as the banana flavor was very subtle. These would be the perfect muffin to keep in your freezer for quick weekday breakfasts or snacks, especially for pregnant vegans looking to up their iron and vitamin B intake. Notice that there is no refined sugar- Guilt free, right?

Hi! I’m Woot. I live in Eugene, Oregon. Here’s a picture that I made in 2002, when I was at the University of Oregon working toward my BFA in Visual Design. It’s called First Communion, and it’s mixed media. I also like to sew, make prints, make food, wrap presents and take photographs.
I made a resolution three years back to be vegan, and two years ago, I quit smoking. Last year I decided that I’d make the effort to maintain a clean house, rather than wait until it gets dirty to do a big clean. All of these resolutions have stuck, I’m very proud to say. This year, my New Years Resolutions were to 1) try a new recipe each week, and 2) make (at least) one crafty thing each month. So far, so good. This blog is the proof that I’m doing it.
I realize that this is a little late in the year to be talking resolutions, but isn’t the point to keep them going all year long? Besides, I found that they tend to stick better if I don’t begin hungover. What are your resolutions?

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