Category Archives: General

Happy New Year!

Image courtesy of gubgib at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of gubgib at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Happy New Year, dear readers!!

I always have such good blogging intentions for December.  After all, it’s a fun month for cooks, foodies, and crafters.  I enjoyed all those activities, I just didn’t have time to write about them.  I guess that just means I have a backlog of fun things to share with you in the weeks ahead!

To say goodbye to the old year and welcome in the new, I thought it would be fun to recap the top five posts of 2013.  Without further ado, here we go:

5. Bouchon Bakery Challenge: Croissants

Freshly Baked Croissants

Apparently a lot of people want to learn how to make croissants!  Not only did this post generate a lot of views, but quite a few people also clicked on the link I shared with instructions on how to make them.

4. Bouchon Bakery Challenge: Banana Muffins

Bouchon Bakery Banana Muffins

In general, my Bouchon Bakery Challenge posts were quite popular.  Many, many people out there are looking to recreate Bouchon Bakery recipes!  It think this one in particular ranked highly because it was posted in January, and therefore had more time to be viewed.  The TKO post ranked highly, but wasn’t published long enough to make the top 5.

3. Basic Rice Pilaf

Basic Rice Pilaf

This continues to be one of my most popular posts, even though it was published nearly 3 years ago.  The most popular search terms coming into my site are variations on, “how to make basic rice pilaf from scratch”.  I think the lesson here is that sometimes the basics are what people want.

2. Caramel Budino

Delicious Caramel Budino

This is one of the posts I am most proud of this year, and I am pleased that it ranked highly.  I spent a lot of time making the dessert, taking the photos, and writing the post, and my work paid off!  This is also a lesson in the power of foodgawker and TasteSpotting, as most of my views came from there.  I was honored to have my photos accepted at both sites!

1. Downton Abbey Mystery Knit-A-Long

Ball of Yarn

This post benefited from the perfect storm of hysteria over the new season of Downton Abbey, interest in participating in a Downton Abbey-themed knit-a-long, and a well-timed and well-placed appearance on Ravelry.

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I wonder what my top 5 posts of 2014 will be?  I suspect the Basic Rice Pilaf post will be one of them.

If I have one blogging goal for 2014, it is to find more time to read and comment on my fellow bloggers’ wonderful posts.  For some reason I have had trouble fitting that in, and I have so many lovely people commenting on my blog, I wish to be able to reciprocate!

I hope all of you have a happy, healthy, and productive New Year!

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The Washer and Dryer That Could

See that washer and dryer up there? That’s what we’ve been using for the last 11 and a half years. Before that they belonged to my parents. They bought them in 1976 or 1977, which makes them about 35 years old.  I was 6 or 7 when they were purchased.

Before they bought this washer/dryer set, my parents owned a small set that fit in the apartment we had been living in. The washer did not have a conventional hookup. My mom actually had to roll the washer into the kitchen on laundry day and hook it up to the kitchen sink. My dad built a wooden ramp so she could roll it up a step and out of the laundry room. Mom would pile loads of laundry on the kitchen counter and stove waiting to go in the washer. Once she accidentally burned a towel by placing it on a hot burner. I’m sure she was happy when they finally bought a washer she could leave in the laundry room!

The washer and dryer served my family well, but began to show their age. When I was about to get married in 2000, my parents decided it was time to get a new washer/dryer set. They offered the old ones to my husband-to-be and I since we would be loading up a moving truck anyway to haul my stuff down to Reno. We said, “Yes”! We figured even if they only lasted a few months, it would be nice to not have to buy a set immediately after we got married and settled into our new place.

The first place my husband and I lived had the washer/dryer hookups in the garage. Not ideal, but we were happy not to have to go to a laundromat. When we bought our house the washer and dryer came with us and moved into a proper laundry room.

The washer and dryer have been on their last legs for a while now, but they still kept chugging along. On Friday I discovered that my load of laundry was not dry even after a couple of hours in the dryer. They weren’t even warm. Finally time to be replaced!

I am looking forward to my new washer and dryer. It will be nice to have some modern features and they will certainly be more energy efficient.  But I doubt the new set will last us nearly as long as our trusty old Maytags.

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First Blogiversary and the Seven Links Game

One year ago today I started my blog.  I had been wanting to have a blog for several years and finally one day I just did it!  I am impressed with myself for posting pretty regularly throughout the course of the year.  It has been a lot of fun sharing my cooking (and other) adventures with you and discovering new blogs and bloggers along the way.

To celebrate the first anniversary of my blog I have unveiled a new header and made a few minor cosmetic changes.  What do you think?  (If you are reading this via email or a blog reader, please click through to see the changes!)

A couple of months ago Elaine from California Living invited me to play a game called “Seven Links”.  I have been meaning to get to it for a while now, and decided that sharing my links on my first blogiversary would be a fun way to reflect back on the year and help some of my newer readers “catch up”.  I have to admit I stole this idea from Theresa at One Wet Foot, as she also played the “Seven Links Game” on the first anniversary of her blog.

Let’s get started!

1) Most Beautiful Post

Isn’t this quiche beautiful?  Spinach and Bacon Quiche

Spinach & Bacon Quiche

I was very happy with the photos I got for this post.  The lighting was great and the subject attractive.  I had a lot of fun with this one!

2) Most Popular Post

I am defining most popular as “most views”.  The clear winner is Basic Rice Pilaf.

Basic Rice Pilaf

This post got a big boost after it was first published when Mark Bittman tweeted about it!  Check out the post comments to see his Tweet.  But even if you take away the views resulting from that Tweet this post still has the most views.  I get at least one hit every day from someone searching for “rice pilaf” or “basic rice pilaf”.

3) Most Controversial Post

There’s nothing very controversial about me or my blog, so I am redefining this one to be “Most Commented Post”:  Bread and Chowder.

Bread and Chowder

Bread and Chowder

Something about the combination of Dorie Greenspan’s Savory Cheese and Chive Bread and this fish ch0wder is very appealing.  Re-reading this post makes me want to recreate the meal!

4) Most Helpful Post

My first and only tutorial:  Cooking en Papillote – A Tutorial.

Cooking en Papillote

I hope readers find this helpful!

5) Most Surprisingly Successful Post

This is a tough one, but I choose Tourteau de Chèvre.

Tourteau de Chevre

I chose this post as most surprisingly successful because I wasn’t sure about even making the dessert and then I ended up LOVING IT!

6) Post That Did Not Get the Attention it Deserved

This family recipe needs some loving: Macaroon Cake.

Macaroon Cake

Macaroon Cake

This cake is quick and easy and delicious!  It didn’t get the attention it deserved because I posted it so early in my blog’s history.  I hardly had any readers when I posted it, so go check it out now!

7) The Post I’m Proudest Of

I learned a new technique:  Adventures in Puff Pastry.

Adventures in Puff Pastry

Not only did I try my hand at making puff pastry, but I made whole wheat puff pastry and it actually puffed!

A big THANK YOU to all my readers out there – thanks for reading!

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Where Have I Been?

Wow!  Where did August go?  I could tell early in the month that it was going to be busy, so I made the decision not to blog for the rest of the month.  That way I didn’t have to feel stressed or guilty that I wasn’t finding time to post.  I just let it go…

So, what was I up to in August?  The month started with a lovely vacation to the Oregon Coast with my entire family.  Fun and relaxing!  Then my daughter was home from school with me full-time for summer break.  She keeps me busy and on my toes!  Add to that some all-consuming drama with the school district right before school started, and I didn’t have much free time.  Things have settled down and my daughter is back in school, so I’m back!

Here are some of the things I have in store for you for the next few weeks:

  • I will get back to my French Fridays with Dorie posts, including a “catch-up” post with all the things I made in August.
  • I want to tell you more about my vacation and share a family favorite recipe.
  • I have a couple of sewing projects in the works.  I may even do my first sewing tutorial!
  • Elaine from California Living invited me play a game called “Seven Links”.  It looks like a fun way to review past posts, so I will try to play soon.

I will leave you with a few recent pictures of the vegetable garden:

Cucumbers, green beans, basil...and a few other random veggies.

Freshly harvested Yukon Gold potatoes (and a stray Red Pontiac). I got about 3 pounds total!

Tomatoes!

A small harvest including four San Marzano tomatoes.

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A Few Enhancements

I have made a few nice enhancements to my blog over the last couple of weeks and thought I would share them with you in case you haven’t noticed. If you are reading this in an email or blog reader, you should click over to the blog itself so you can see the changes.

First up is a “Recent Pattern Reviews” widget in my left sidebar. This will show my most recent reviews on PatternReview.com. Right now the reviews that are listed are pretty old (and unfortunately if you are not a member you will not be able to view them), but as I add new ones the items will be updated. This feature is mainly for my fellow PatternReview members who may visit my blog.

The next enhancement is a recipe index! I only have about 10 recipes at this point, but I figured it was easier to start the index now instead of when I have 100 recipes. You can find the index by looking at the menu at the top of the screen above the header. Click on the word “Recipes” to view the index. I will update the index whenever I add a new recipe.

Last but not least, I now have printable recipes!  I’m really excited about this one!  If you like the look of a recipe and want to make it, you don’t necessarily want to print out my whole blog post along with the recipe. Now you don’t have to! Under the title of a recipe you will see the text “(printable recipe)”. Click on that and you will be taken to a nice, clean-looking page where you can print it out. See my latest recipe for an example:  Chicken and Green-Bean Stir-Fry with Coconut-Curry Sauce.  Here is what the printable version looks like:  print it.  This feature is only available for a couple of my recipes right now.  All new recipes will have the printable version, and I will slowly go through my old recipes to add the printable feature.  If there is a particular recipe you’d like to print right now, let me know and I’ll get to it quickly!

Thanks for reading my blog!  What you do think of the enhancements?

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A Big Storm Knocked it Over

We had a big wind storm yesterday and one of our trees got blown over.  Thankfully it landed across the road and did not hit any houses, cars or people.

I am very impressed with the city.  Shortly after the tree fell they arrived to clear it off the street.  The guys from the parks department removed all the branches and put them through a chipper.  Then they cut the trunk into manageable-sized pieces and placed them neatly in our yard.  They even swept up the sawdust!  All this was completed in less than two hours after the tree fell.

Here are some pictures of what is left of our tree.  And yes, that is snow on the ground.  You can click on each picture for a bigger view.

Roots

The roots came up...

Side View

Logs

The logs left by the parks guys

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I Feel Honored

Last week a very nice thing happened!  Two fellow bloggers honored me with the Stylish Blogger Award.

Stylish Blogger

First to honor me was Cher at The Not So Exciting Adventures of a Dabbler…

The next day Katiebe over at Prof Who Cooks awarded me as well.

Both are fellow French Fridays with Dorie participants.  It has been a lot of fun getting to know other cooks and bloggers by making the same thing together each week.

As as fairly new blogger, it sure is nice to know there are people out there enjoying my blog!

So, there are a few “rules” to this award thing.  I’m going to follow some of them and not others!

1. Thank and link back to the person who awarded you this award:

This one’s easy!  I truly appreciate the honor.  Thanks to both Cher and Katiebe for thinking of me!

2. Share 7 things about yourself:

  1. I currently live in Reno, NV but I grew up in Seattle, WA.
  2. I have a degree in Mathematics and a minor in Computer Science.
  3. I have  a secret addiction to chocolate-hazelnut spreads (like Nutella, but I prefer higher quality products)
  4. While I enjoy all the days of sunshine we have in Reno, I always like it when it rains because it reminds me of home.
  5. I danced ballet all through my school years.
  6. Even though I live so close to all the great Tahoe ski resorts I don’t ski or snowboard and have no desire to.
  7. Cleaning house is not my forte.

3. Award 15 recently discovered great bloggers.
4. Contact these bloggers and tell them about the award!

I’m not going to do these last two. I have a bunch of new-to-me blogs (both cooking and sewing) bookmarked for further perusal, but I just haven’t had the time lately to check them out.  I don’t feel like I could honestly pick 15 to award at this time.

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Happy New Year 2011

Happy New Year!  I hope everyone had a happy holiday season.  We had a very nice, quiet Christmas with lots of family time.

I neglected my blog a bit over the holidays,  but with my family heading back to work and school on Monday I hope to get back to more regular posting.

Here are some things to look forward to in the coming weeks:

  • Two sewing projects: the 2nd Christmas gift I made (PJ’s) and the cardi-wrap I started in November.
  • Blog improvements, including printable recipes, a recipe index, and links to my most recent reviews on PatternReview.

    I can’t wait to see what else I will be inspired by!

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    Inertia.

    My intentions were not to get deep and serious so early in my blog, but I stumbled across this post today, and it really spoke to me.  I felt like the author was describing me, but more eloquently than I ever could.  My non-negotiables are different, and my dreams are different, but the feeling of inertia towards pursuing my dreams is the same.

    This is something I’ve made a conscious decision to tackle.  Starting this blog is one step towards pursuing my dreams.  I have been wanting to have a blog for a couple of years, so I decided to “just do it”.  I want to find more time to sew, I have business ideas, and home projects to pursue, and it is my goal to actually do them, not just dream about them.

    My biggest roadblock is time management.  I waste too much time each day doing non-essential things, when I could be spending my time doing things I enjoy more.  Why can’t I make the things I love and want to be doing a higher priority?  Perhaps because I have to do things I don’t enjoy so much before I can get to the other, more “fun” things?  How do I motivate myself to get the “work” out of the way so I can pursue my dreams and interests?

    Like the author of that post, by the end of the day I feel “spent” and like I deserve a break.  BUT, I have time during the day, many days of the week, where I don’t have this excuse.  So, no more excuses!

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