Archive for March, 2010

The other day the weather turned from spring back to winter, which put me in the perfect mood for whipping up some comfort food.

Meet, make, and fall in love with Smitten Kitchen’s recipe for Classic Grilled Cheese & Cream of Tomato Soup. I can’t get enough of this awesome cook’s recipes (expect many to be blogged about in the near future).

Cream of Tomato Soup
Adapted from The America’s Test Kitchen Cookbook

2 (28-ounce) cans whole tomatoes packed in juice, drained, 3 cups juice reserved
1 1/2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 large shallots, minced (about 1/2 cup)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
Pinch ground allspice
2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups chicken stock, homemade or canned low-sodium
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons brandy or dry sherry
Salt and cayenne pepper

1. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 450°F. Lined rimmed baking sheet with foil. With fingers, carefully open whole tomatoes over strainer set in bowl and push out seeds, allowing juices to fall through strainer into bowl. Spread seeded tomatoes in single layer on foil. Sprinkle evenly with brown sugar. Bake until all liquid has evaporated and tomatoes begin to color, about 30 minutes. Let tomatoes cool slightly, then peel them off foil; transfer to small bowl and set aside.

2. Heat butter over medium heat in large saucepan until foaming. Add shallots, tomato paste and allspice. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until shallots are softened, 7 to 10 minutes. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, until thoroughly combined, about 30 seconds. Gradually add chicken stock, whisking constantly to combine; stir in reserved tomato juice and roasted tomatoes. Cover, increase heat to medium, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, to blend flavors, about 10 minutes.

3. Pour mixture through strainer* and into medium bowl; rinse out saucepan. Transfer tomatoes and solids in strainer to blender; add 1 cup strained liquid and puree until smooth. Place pureed mixture and remaining strained liquid in saucepan. Add cream and warm over low heat until hot, about 3 minutes. Off heat, stir in brandy and season with salt and cayenne. Serve immediately. (Soup can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 days. Warm over low heat until hot; do not boil.)

Classic Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
Adapted from The America’s Test Kitchen Cookbook

3 ounces cheese (preferably mild cheddar) or combination of cheese, grated on large holes of box grater (about 3/4 cup)
4 slices (1/2 inch-thick) from white sandwich bread, such as Pepperidge Farm Toasting White
2 tablespoons butter (preferably salted), melted

1. Heat heavy 12-inch skillet over low to medium-low heat. Meanwhile, sprinkle a portion of cheese over two bread slices. Top each with a remaining bread slice, pressing down gently to set.

2. Brush sandwich tops completely with half of melted butter; place each sandwich, buttered-size down, in skillet. Brush remaining side of each sandwich completely with remaining butter. Cook until crisp and deep golden brown, 5 to 10 minutes per side, flipping sandwiches back to first side to reheat and crisp, about 15 seconds. Serve immediately.


I didn’t have any brandy or sherry to add to the soup, but I didn’t notice anything missing, and I didn’t need to add any salt to the recipe. Taste before you do! And don’t forget a nice glass of wine to enjoy with it. ^_^

I think this was the first time I’d had tomato soup since I was five and decided it was yucky. I was very surprised by how my tastes had changed. It’s super yummy when you use the grilled cheese for dipping. mmmm


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Fancy Wallet Outside

It was officially time for me to get a new wallet, and being the cheap girl I am, as well as the do-it-your-selfer I am, I decided to make my own.

Old Wallet Front

After somewhere around 7 years, the old Totoro wallet had definitely seen better days. Although he had seen me through many well-thought out and spur of the moment purchases, it was time for retirement. I wanted to make something a little more grown up, yet still cute, with plenty of space for id’s, credit cards, etc… I had a fabric wallet I bought in Japan, but couldn’t stand the coin pouch, so I knew I wanted it to have a much more user friendly one.

Old Wallet Inside

I started by searching around on the internet to find a style I liked, and then tried to duplicate it. Confessions of a Fabricholic has a really easy to follow and thorough wallet tutorial. My wallet turned out quite a bit like hers, but is a little shorter width wise, and I used a magnetic clasp rather than a snap closure. Another cool looking wallet pattern to try is At Second Street’s Tag Wallet.

It was really fun to come up with my own dimensions and piece it all together. I made sure to use heavy iron on interfacing so it would have some rigidity. I love the magnetic clasp. I double interfaced the portion where I inserted the magnets, and it feels very sturdy.

Fancy Wallet Inside

So what do you think? Is this something I should add to my etsy shop?

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I have fallen unashamedly in love with Liberty of London fabrics. The bright colors and the seventies vintage feel of many of the patterns is so tantalizing. The florals are my favorite designs.

Blue Star Point 9180A

Pink Mershell 0175b

Target has recently introduced a line of Liberty of London products and I want them all! Especially the storage boxes.


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Beach Day

This weekend the Hubby and I had a fun and eventful day out and about. We decided we’d drive down to Bodega Bay and see if the seals had had their pups yet. It’s a forty minute to an hour long drive to the coast. It’s a very beautiful scenic route through cute little towns, so the drive is well worth the time it takes.

I had heard that there was a cute bread place about halfway there so we packed up a giant thermos of coffee and started out on the road. We missed the turn to the bread place (didn’t even notice) and were within two miles of the coast when we hit a pot hole and suddenly my coffee was running scalding down my crotch (pardon the somewhat vulgar term). It was hot. It was everywhere. It looked like I had super pee’d my pants. And we were forty five minutes from home.

So we decided to backtrack to one of the towns and found a goodwill. They had absolutely no pants that would fit, but I found a cute grey sweater dress that I could wear long to cover up the coffee stains. Onward to the bread place!

We got to the bread place and avast they only took cash! We had three dollars to our name and the cheapest menu item was a scone for $3.50. We drove on as our hunger mounted beyond what we thought possible.

We then came to a super small town with a cafe and about 30 bikers all parked for lunch. FOOD FINALLY. And a damn fine raisin cinnamon roll it was.

We avoided the pot hole the second time around and made it to the beach. The seals were there still and we got to see one cute pup! Not to mention this happy fellow. I love these big squishy guys!


There were a bunch of starfish on the beach this time too. They were a different texture than I would have thought. They felt the way sugar feels when it’s hardened on something squishy like jello or pound cake.

After the beach we took a scenic route through a ton of big wineries into Healdsburg where we got beer and yummy garlic parmesan fries at Bear Republic Brewery. Delish!

Bears Love Beer Obviously

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Food coloring + beer = fun

The Hubby

We had a quiet night in for St. Patrick’s Day. We are never one for the crowds that surround bar holidays. More of a headache than a five dollar green beer is worth. All you need is two drops of green food coloring to get a nice rich color going in your brew.

Now I’m on a food coloring kick.

Last night I tried to make my beer purple by putting in blue and red dye.

P.S. It makes it a murky gray brown. I forgot about the beer’s innate coloring of amber.  😛

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The usual rainy weather has got me in the mood for cloudy illustrations and video game playing. Rather than the boring old black sleeve that came with the PSP, I decided to design my own.


I used the cut outs from my last post to make the applique, which is the same as the fabric I used for the PSP and game pouch.


The case fits one original PSP and has slots for two UMD’s (universal media discs? The game discs.). It has a velcro closure as well. I was very excited by the fact that my first design worked almost perfectly–meaning there was no major editing of my pattern or resewing. I ended up turning the edges into curved seams because it just looked batter. I inserted batting between the main body layers and the PSP case layer for some added padding. All-in-all I’m very happy with it. It’s compact, padded for carrying in a bag or purse, and can hold extra games in the event I’m out and want to play something else (this will come in handy when I’m waiting at the DMV for hours trying to change my name).

With a little more fine tuning I think I would include this as a part of my etsy shop.

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It’s been a rainy season up here which has left me not necessarily craving everything spring (though I will admit I prefer sunshine and fresh flowers), but rather I’ve been enjoying all the raindrop motifs going around.

Stormy Fabric

I love this fabric and have been wanting to do something special with it for almost a year now. I enjoy hoarding my fabric until I find the perfect project for it. I cut around one of the clouds and used the scraps for the raindrops. Next I’m going to applique these onto a case I’m making for my husband’s PSP which I have been using to play the new re-release of Lunar: Silver Star Story. (Side note: my all time favorite video game RPG is Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete for the Playstation. This re-release has updated graphics, battle system, and music, though the voice acting has actually become more annoying. I’m sure there will be a more in depth analysis in a post to come.)

Anyways, another of the raindrop ideas I am enjoying is the pattern on the Etsy Tutorial for Hand-Painted Teacups. They are adorable! What I would love to do is find a group of miscellaneously craft girls around my age who live around here and would want to get together and have craft nights where we do projects like those teacups, the baking of delicious things, or duct tape dress forms like my friend June has been talking about for years. Anybody in the Sonoma County area interested?

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