Saturday, January 28, 2012

Sewing Table: Completed! SO MANY PHOTOS!

This is where my new table lives:

This is where it works:

And this is when I start singing the theme song to Transformers:

And this is about where I belt out "SEWING TABLE IN DISGUISE!!" so loudly it scares the dog.

Need a table like this? Build one! Super easy, and great (and free!) plans to build this little beauty here!

The color is an exact match to an antique Ball mason jar (Fish out of H20 by Mythic Paint). I'm completely in love. I was unsure at first, but my hesitance succumbed to adoration.

Since it was sitting so seductively in the corner, I just had to make something. This was my very first project on this table:

It holds a whole lot of war paint makeup.


I followed this tutorial.

Hope you're having a great weekend so far!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Beard on Bread

We eat mostly organic foods made from whole materials, including bread. Unfortunately, our bread machine died in a spat of flames a couple of weeks ago, and now the job of making bread has become a more manual endeavor.

I've been meaning to learn make bread, to really learn how. And for my 30th birthday in June my brother gifted me Beard on Bread, so I've had this lovely gem of a book for the last 7 months and haven't been making the most of it. Well, that's going to change.

I'm going to attempt to make every (eggless) bread in this book. Because I can. And because I'll learn a valuable skill while I'm at it.

Behold, my first handmade loaf of bread:

Basic White Bread (page 22):

This one was washed with condensed milk (it's what we had, don't judge!) and baked at 400 for 35 minutes. It wasn't perfect, but the taste was incredible. Next time I need to let it rise longer on the second rest.

So take this as a warning- you'll be seeing a lot more photos of bread on here as I work my way through this book.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Sewing Table: The Saga Continues

I am covered in paint. It's apparently the only way I can effectively get stuff done. My creative process has always been wrought with chaos.

I can't decide if I love or hate the color yet. It is growing on me, but the initial shock hasn't worn off yet.

Something I do love: Gnome fabric from This will the very first thing I'll be sewing on my table when I'm done.

EDITED 1/28/12: So the gnome fabric was NOT the first thing to get sewn. Turns out I'm not brave enough to cut it. I'll practice on a few things first, and once I gain some courage those gnomes are going to get it!

Monday, January 23, 2012

I have a paint color for my sewing table!

Aptly named "Fish out of H20." Because that pretty much sums up how I feel when I'm sewing.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Sewing Table: Structurally Complete!

It needs a little paint, sure, but it's done!

Speaking of needing a little paint, I think something needs to be done about this:

Sawdust indoors really, really sucks, hence the scarf mask. I'm looking forward to building stuff outside again. Sweet, fresh air. Oh, how I miss you.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Screw the snow, I'm building a sewing table.

The last time I left the house was last Saturday. In the meantime, I've been making our house a disaster by pulling everything out of the drawers and closets and not putting things back. I've discovered a stash of fabric in the chaos, and it's made me really want to start sewing.

Sewing takes space. It takes a proper working area, and the only area that has enough surface space is our kitchen table. So typically I'll set up shop there, then leave everything on the table for a minimum of three days, because it's a pain to put everything back just to pull it out again. And while I really wanted to sew this last week my husband needed the table to actually work-work, so I was stuck. No sewing for me.

But now the weather is better, the roads are visible and they're no longer a skating rink. I'm building myself a sewing table. A teeny, tiny sewing table, sure. But it will be all my own.

I found this great little design here, on If you've never been to her site, I highly recommend spending some time browsing it.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Four Seasons of Casa Crustante

It's a few months away from our paper signing anniversary, but I am happy to say we've seen our little house (cottage? Shack?) in every season!

Winter is by far the prettiest, but man, winter is being a rough mistress this year. Does she have a safe word? Anyone care to share what it is?

Rumor has it we're supposed to be in the mid-forties tomorrow. I'm not really sure where the 9+ inches of snow in our front yard is going to go. I may need a boat by the time this week is over.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

8" in the front yard and it's still snowing.

We have more snow. And because we have to suffer through it, so do you.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Calm Before the Storm

Yup, it's still snowing.

According to various forecasts we're really going to get it tomorrow. They're suggesting anywhere between 4-12" of snow.

We've got food stocked away, I'm baking oatmeal cookies (made with applesauce and whole wheat- they're almost more of a breakfast cookie), and we've got board games, books, candles and flashlights. I think we're ready. As ready as we'll ever be.

Should be an interesting experience.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The First Snow of 2012!

Our first snow at Casa Crustante!

Yup, our attitudes toward soliciting are as cold as our weather.

Our lovely Faverolles ladies have been great troopers, they've spent the majority of the day outside, foraging and discussing important chicken matters. Although they have been wearing an expression of WTH all over their chicken faces.

Something tells me that snow is slightly beyond their comprehension.

Hope you and yours are staying toasty and warm.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Bedroom Chronicles: Part I

I built us a floating headboard from some leftover plywood from the chicken coop floor. Huh. There's a sentence I never thought I'd type.

It's been hanging up for two days now, and it hasn't crashed on our heads yet. I'm counting it as a success.

A few 1x3s, some upholstery fabric, and some staples later:

With Blanket #1:

Blanket #2:

If you look very, very closely you might be able to see the teeny tiny closet that my husband and I share. Don't move. You might scare it.

Because I'm a barbarian, I don't really understand the floofy little additional pillows some people stack on their bed. But now that I'm actively trying to make our house feel like home (you know, like hanging pictures and stuff..) I may be tempted to sew some soon.

'Why sage green?', you're asking yourself. This room will have a theme. My first ever room with a theme! That theme will be.... drum roll goes here.... 'Naturalist!' And with that comes very subtle shades of green, grey blues, and pale lavenders and earthy browns. I think it'll be a very calm room. We'll see.

Ever since I've seen Ernst Haeckel's Tree of Life from the Evolution of Man, I've wanted to do something with it. I don't believe humans to be the pinnacle of life like he did, but rather varying shades of grey. But there is something optimistic and cheery about people who believe we are more than just primates, shuffling along our mortal paths. And toss it with a few botanist sketches of some of my favorite plants (I'm thinking perhaps some kind of oxalis and a trillium, maybe one of lavender?) to round out the room.

So I'm going to hang this above our bed. Framed in all of its glory, as a symbol to be more than what I think we are, to strive the be the brightest version of ourselves.

The next quest for me is to find additional storage. So I'll be trading out our box spring and replacing it with this Ikea's Sultan Alsarp Foundation:

Say hello to another 33 square feet of storage! $12 per square foot. Every little bit counts with our tiny home!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Spice(s) of Life.

new little spice jars
much too pretty for labels
makes cooking a game

Monday, January 9, 2012

Warning: Gratuitous Spice Bottles

I bought spice jars from Mountain Rose Herbs. Eighteen for $22. As far as I'm concerned, it's a bargain.

I'm in love. Completely.

Oh, and I bought some herbs and spices, too. Our house smells like heaven right now.

That's all.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Bee Chronicles

Due to city code I am not allowed to keep honey bees. But that doesn't mean I've sworn off having bees completely. I firmly believe in doing what I can to encourage pollinators in my garden, and I figured that there's no better way to do that than to foster our own native blue orchard mason bees.

We bought them a house last year. Unfortunately the sale of our home closed after mason bee season, so we couldn't start our bee stewardship last year. The good news was that we managed to get this little chateau on sale!

Apparently mason bees can have difficulty figuring out which hole is their own, so I figured I'd add a little color to the mix to help them locate their individual apartments. Personally, I'd live in the teal row, third hobbit hole from the left.

While I was waiting for the paint to dry, I figured a little gnome surgery was in order.

We've been on a bit of a gnome killing spree lately. For some reason, every gnome that's in the house ends up shattered. I think this is their way of informing us they need to be in the wild.

So with a little love and care, our little gnome was made whole again. He has been ordained as Patron Gnome of the Bees, so I figured a little handmade bee was fitting for the situation.

All that's left to do is station the house and the gnome outside when the weather warms up.

My 20 little mason bee cocoons have arrived, and they're hanging out in the refrigerator, waiting patiently for spring. The females bees are the largest cocoons. They're about the size of a coffee bean.

I'm so excited to watch them emerge. I think they'll be a delightful addition to our little garden.

I ordered my bees from Crown Bees, a local company in Woodinville, WA. If you've ever been tempted to help our indigenous pollinators, this is the perfect time of year to do it.

Friday, January 6, 2012


I've been curious about making yogurt. I keep seeing yogurt making kits in the multitude of plant catalogs I've been receiving. They usually start around $50 or so. As much as I'd like to buy one of those devices, I really have no room for it.

So one night of particularly bad insomnia (I managed to pick a fight with the husband over rustling blankets- he ended up sleeping on the sofa and I ended up on the computer searching the web in angst) when I somehow stumbled onto a wonderful guide to making yogurt in a crock pot.

I was geared to make some serious yogurt (a gallon of milk's worth) but I ended up bringing home ultra-pasteurized milk. Don't do that! Thankfully, my husband (we're on good terms now!) was a sweetheart and brought me home my own gallon of 1% pasteurized milk. And thus, the process began.

I'll spare you the gory details, but here's a summary.

Heat milk to about 180F (but don't boil it).
Drop the temperature of the milk to about 115F (I turned off my crockpot at this point and just watched the temperature closely).
Mix in 1/2 cup of live culture yogurt per 1/2 gallon of milk.
Wrap it with a towel and leave it alone for 7 hours.

This is what I woke up to:

It is a little on the runny side. I'll be straining this through cheesecloth to get a thicker yogurt.

My breakfast: Freshly made yogurt, a touch of maple syrup with a sliced banana and a little homemade granola. It was incredible. I'm going back for seconds.

Want to make your own yogurt? Here are three sites that helped me greatly in this process: A Year of Slow Cooking, Our Life Simplified and Macheesmo.

This was so easy that I think I'll make it a regular thing- the flavor is remarkable. Easily the best yogurt I've ever eaten (I know this sounds conceited- but try it, you'll see!). We eat about $50 a month in yogurt, and we do whatever we can to eat organic. So I know this will be saving us a lot of money.


Okay, so I wrote this before I was awake, so I thought it'd be prudent to add some things.

For my next batch of yogurt, I'll be heating the milk on the stove. Why? Well, heating the milk in the crock pot takes a reeeally long time, and I am a constant worrier. So the whole 3 1/2 hours it took to get up to 180F, I was taking the temperature every 15 or so minutes to make sure I wasn't ruining the milk by overheating it.

This is what I'll do:
  1. Add water to crock pot. Turn it on high. Let it heat up.
  2. When water is about 180 degrees and I'm ready, I'll heat the milk up on the stove at my convenience.
  3. Dump out water, pour milk into the crock pot. Proceed as usual.

That's my plan and I'm sticking to it.

Bonus Round- Haiku!
tasty delicious
yogurt from my slow cooker
makes store yogurt cry