Monday, June 29, 2009

Minted Couscous with Fruit

A few days ago I saw Giada de Laurentis making this recipe for sweet couscous on Food Network. It sounded so good, that for dinner I went into the kitchen and started to play around with my own version. I changed several of the ingredients and added a touch of cardomom. I think you could use any combination of dried fruit - I just used what I had available. I confess I didn't measure the fruit, I just tossed in a handful of each kind. And since my garden is overflowing with mint right now, I added a bit of chopped mint as a topping which was perfect!

Minted Couscous with Fruit

1 3/4 cups water
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cardomom
1/3 cup dried cherries, chopped
1/3 cup dried apricots, chopped
1/3 cup golden raisins
1 1/2 cup couscous
1/2 cup toasted slivered almonds
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint

1) In a medium sized saucepan, heat the water to boiling. Add the sugar and salt and stir until disolved.
2) Reduce the heat and toss in the dried fruit and simmer for a few minutes. Then add the cardomom and the 1 1/2 cups couscous. Stir and remove from heat.
3) Let it set for about 5 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed. Use a fork to fluff up the couscous, then mix in the almonds and most of the chopped mint. Serve with additional chopped mint on top.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Impatient Beader Gets Creative

Here is another great book that I have been enjoying to get unique inspiration for my jewelry. The Impatient Beader Gets Inspired!: A Crafty Chick's Guide to Instant Inspiration
has lots of fun and funky ideas for necklaces and other jewelry.

This is the book that made me want to learn to solder - although I must say that the directions are somewhat incomplete because they omit the need to use flux.

Here's another idea from the book. I've purchased some of these circular frames to make pendants - you don't need to solder to make these! I got many of my supplies at Alphastamps. They have all kinds of pretty frames that you can put pictures into to make pendants.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Cafe at Westborn Market - Berkley

I love to shop at the Westborn Market in Berkley. Since they remodeled, it is a food and flower lovers paradise. But you might be surprised to know that it also is a great place to get lunch on the weekend! A few years ago when I was shopping on a Saturday, I was enticed by the aroma of grilled burgers. I seldom eat red meat, but I just couldn't resist having a cheeseburger with grilled onions when my shopping is done. This year, they have made a little cafe area next to the grill and the herbs where you can sit under umbrellas to eat.

They've also added more items to their menu. The burgers are a bit larger (and a bit more expensive) and the grilled onions are gone, but they've added turkey burgers, pulled pork, and other goodies that feature products made in Michigan. The turkey burgers are really good - they have dried cherries inside which actually tastes great!

Recently I decided to give a taste test to the pulled pork with the cherry barbeque sauce. It came with coleslaw (I don't like creamy coleslaw, too bad they didn't have something I could substitute). The sauce is very good. Thought it could have a better tasting bun. I also bought a diet cherry soda from Cherry Republic - very sweet!! They also have bottles of Faygo to go with their promotion of Michigan products.

And my sandwich came with a killer brownie bite which was way too small!!

So if you are out grocery shopping on the weekend, you might consider a lunch break at Westborn!

Something to Watch - Lost in Austen

I recently purchased the DVD set for the British mini-series Lost in Austen. If you are a Jane Austen fan, you will enjoy this entertaining story of a young woman who switches places with Elizabeth Bennet in 19th century England. As she becomes involved in the lives of the characters of Pride and Prejudice, she not only changes the story but also discovers that not all is as it seemed in Austen's novel. Total escapism fun! (And if you know me in real life, I'll gladly lend you my copy!)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Dining at the DIA - CafeDIA

A few weeks ago I went with my friend Andrea to the Detroit Institute of Arts to see the Norman Rockwell exhibit. We stopped for lunch at the cafe and let me tell you it is not your typical museum cafeteria food. You can see on this table shot some of the things we had - a wonderful salad from the salad bar and a chicken roll up. I had an Italian club sandwich with sweet potato chips. It was served on fresh ciabatta roll and was delicious. We also couldn't resist the desserts - a chocolate dessert layered with mousse and whipped cream and a almond pear tart. First rate classy food to go with a classy museum!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Jewelry Redesign

Lynn, one of my friends at school, recently asked me if I could redesign a necklace for her beautiful cross pendant. The chain had broken and she wanted a new chain where the pendant wouldn't slide around. I found the perfect dark chain at Munro's Crafts and also bought some charcoal colored Swarovski crystals. I really liked the combination of this chain with the crystals, so look to see it featured in another Clever Karen design.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Shopping at H&M

Just had to share a couple of cute tops that I bought at H&M for ten dollars each! I never have had any luck finding clothes there, either too young looking, too skimpy, or too small, but this time I think I scored. These will be great for some traveling I will be doing in July.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Adventures of the One Armed Gardener

Because of my broken elbow, I haven't been able to garden the way I normally do. I don't have nearly as many pots of flowers, I haven't given everything a good drink of Miracle Grow, and I haven't been able to really keep the weeds pulled. Despite this, I think the garden is off to a good start!

My herbs - I always love having fresh herbs for my cooking!

The Annabelle hydrangea is thriving without my help!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A Winner at Food Blogga

I often enter giveaway contest on blogs by adding comments. Never had any luck at them, until now. Food Blogga contacted me yesterday to let me know that I had won a gift card to Carrabba's Italian Grill in a recent contest. Now Carrabba's is probably my favorite chain Italian restaurant. I love their bread and their pasta has great flavor. I'm hoping the gift card arrives in time to take my dad out for Father's Day.

You should also check out Food Blogga! Great recipes. This Almond Crusted French Toast is on my list of recipes to try this summer.

So have any of you had luck winning commenting giveaways?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Book: Simple Soldered Jewelry and Accessories

I recently purchased Simple Soldered Jewelry & Accessories: A Crafter's Guide to Fashioning Necklaces, Earrings, Bracelets & More to get some more help and ideas for my soldered jewelry charms. It is an excellent resource for the beginner. Besides giving step by step directions, it has beautiful project ideas. Here are a couple photos from the book of things that I'd like to make:

Monday, June 15, 2009

Easy Roasted Sweet Corn

You can learn the most amazing things in the teacher's lounge during lunch. Cindy mentioned a few weeks ago that she cooks her sweet corn in the oven in the husks. No soaking, no cleaning. Just stick then corn in the husk in the oven for 20 - 25 minutes at 400 degrees.

When you remove the corn, the husks will be slightly brown. And here is the amazing part - when you pull back the husk, it comes off cleanly with NO SILK STRINGS attached! The corn was moist and sweet! Seriously, folks! The easiest way to clean and cook corn ever!!

Once cleaned, I stuck the corn into the microwave for about 15 seconds. That finished cooking the corn (if the kernels were still just a bit tough) and the corn was piping hot, ready for some butter! Yum!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Vintage Sheet PJs

Orange. I don't think I have ever bought orange fabric in my life! (Actually, I don't think I have ever bought anything orange in my life, except maybe carrots and oranges!) But a while back I found an old vintage sheet with big orange flowers - not particularly the color I that attracts me. But it had a funky kind of vibe and I thought it would make some fun pajama pants.

I used an old pattern book that I had called Pants and Capris by Cindy Taylor Oates. I don't think it is still in print, but she has another book called Easy Sew Pajama pants which looks very similar to the pattern I used.

I bought a small strip of Paisley Party fabric from Guildcrafters in Berkley to add to the bottom of the pjs. My very first orange fabric ever! I added a little strip of green from another old sheet to pull out the green color. I was delighted with the combination. The pants are funky and comfortable and the sheet fabric is so soft!

For the top, I bought a t-shirt from Target. I used Wonder Under to fuse the little circles on the corner edge and outlined the borders by hand with some pearl cotton thread. (And yes, I had no orange thread in my stash, either!) I totally adore these! I want to make another pair, this time with shorts!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Soldered Lace Charms

When I started making the soldered charms, my friend Sally sent me pictures of some charms she had bought at a craft show with lace embedded between the glass. What a great idea! Now that my elbow is getting better I was able to play around with making a few more charms. I'm getting the hang of the soldering, but still am struggling to cut the glass straight and get the jump rings on top. I just bought a little "jewelers hand" gizmo that hopefully will help make doing the jump rings easier.

I experimented with making made several charms with little dangles underneath.

For my friend's birthday, I made her this simple little charm on a silver chain:

And since chains are so popular right now, I also made her a longer chain with a couple of charms on one side and some silver loops on the other side.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Cafe Via - Birmingham

It was a beautiful day yesterday and I met a friend at Cafe Via in Birmingham for lunch to celebrate her upcoming birthday. Cafe Via is tucked behind an alleyway off of Maple near Woodward and seems to be very popular with the well dressed people who shop in Birmingham.

Inside are several cozy rooms lined with rich wood, plush fabrics, and a hallway decorated with books with little counters where a couple people could sit. Outside the restaurant is an alcove where a dozen or so tables sit under a large olive green canopy. This seems to be a popular place for lunch dining and we had to wait about 15 minutes before a table opened. Unfortunately, the table where we were seated was smack dab in the sun with a lovely view of a parking garage! But after a few minutes another table opened in the shade and we moved to a more pleasant location under the canopy. On one wall outside there even is a fireplace, which I'm sure is delightful on cool evenings.

We were served a crusty wheat bread studded with olives while waiting for our meals. My friend ordered the steak salad. It was beautiful, covered with matchstick apple slices. gorgonzola cheese, and some candied walnuts that looked rather tempting. My friend liked it, and the size was just right for lunch.

I ordered the chicken paillard. The chicken had a crispy panko crust and was layered on top of roasted tomato, spinach, and fresh artichokes with slightly creamy sauce over top. It was very good!

Since this was a birthday celebration, we had to have dessert! My friend had vanilla panna cotta topped with raspberry sauce and garnished with pistachios and gooseberries. (How do you describe panna cotta to someone who has never had it - a cross between pudding, custard, ice cream?) My dessert was apple pie with a caramel maple sauce and rum raisin ice cream on the side. The pie had a thick Dutch apple topping and was very cinnamony (is there such a word?). Yep, it was good.

The restaurant was pretty reasonable for a nice lunch (around $10 - 16). There were some delicious looking sandwiches, salads, a chicken pot pie, and a lot of people seemed to be ordering the burger. If you add in dessert, it is a bit of a splurge, and I'd guess that dinner prices would be more expensive. However, it is a charming and classy place to eat and a perfect spot to dine on a lovely summer day.

Cafe Via on Urbanspoon

Monday, June 8, 2009

Red Vintage Floral Soldered Charms

Back from the doctor this morning - he said that my broken elbow is progressing. I have 3 more weeks to avoid heavy lifting, pushing, and pulling, but he did ok doing light tasks as long as it didn't hurt. So hopefully I can get a going on some of the clever projects that I want to do this summer. I'm hoping to get the soldering iron out this afternoon!

Meanwhile, here are a few more little charms that I made before my accident. The pattern is a vintage floral tablecloth that I had scanned and printed. I experimented soldering a button on top of one charm - it didn't quite work, I couldn't get it straight. Forgive the bad pictures, it's a rainy gloomy day so there is bad light for photography. But since I haven't done much blogging recently, I just wanted to get at least one thing posted today.

And here's the back sides. The K charm is totally lopsided! The other ones are a print of a stamp over some vintage paper and a closeup of Yellowstone Falls from a vintage postcard. I've got lots more ideas so hopefully I'll have some new ones to share with you soon.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Peony Pretty

Ah....the students are cards are done....Summer may now begin!

My arm is getting better - about 3 1/2 weeks left to be careful. I've gotten the hang of left handed photography (using the camera upside down to click the button). So hopefully I can get back to doing a bit more blogging.

My peony is in bloom. I cut a few blossoms and put them in an Ikea vase. Enjoy!


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