Sunday, April 20, 2014

The wee mousey burrito

The title of this post sounds utterly disgusting, I know, but don't worry it's not a real burrito or even real mice. If you ever find me eating real mice burritos, then you should consider that to be a sign of either my descent into insanity, or the apocalypse.

little mousey poking out of his cover

During a recent visit to our local antique store, I found a cute little box of mice with extraordinarily long tails. When I asked the proprietor for more information as to their use, he said that the very long tails were for holding cheese and other hors d'oeuvres. Well, I think I may have hopped with delight, right there in the middle of his store. I was so excited at such a cute and clever idea. And when he offered  to sell them for just twenty dollars, well, I couldn't refuse.  

such long, luxurious tails
Now I have a whole litter of tiny nice to help me with my next party. Fortunately, these mice are more like the little, happy, clean mice in Cinderella and not so much like the ones in my cupboards.…hmm, maybe scratch that next party until I can convince my neighbor to stop sending over all of his little furry cupboard friends.

So, to keep these little mice in tip top shape, I decided that they needed their own rolled felt case. This would protect them from each other and from any outside scratches. I will admit, they came in their original box which kept them nicely separated and displayed them beautifully. Somebody had taken great care to keep the box in fairly good shape, but it still had an inevitable layer of grime from having been around for many years. So, I tossed the box and, although I have little doubt that when I threw away that box I probably gave up any chance of selling my little Napier mice(Napier is the company that made them) for a fortune in the future, I find the tiny felt burrito cover to be a much more adorable way to keep them clean. And handmade by me, means that that I can make a new one anytime I want :)

so mysterious... what's inside?

oh, hello!
Now there are two of them!
so many mice came out to play.

Monday, April 7, 2014

A happy, indulgent spring

So many happy, cheerful things to enjoy this spring. Good friends, way too much delicious food, bright little bunches of flowers, perfect weather(a little too summery for my taste, but I can't complain).

Here are a few of those fun things.

My pretty little tulips. 

Using my jelly jar lemonade sipper as a vase with a frog to hold the daffodils in place. It worked fairly well and was just such a darling presentation. The lid on my sipper is actually designed to hold a straw in place but it works equally well on skinny little flower stems. 

Matthew and I have been eating so little meat of late. This roasted pork belly from urban solace was divine, but it was almost overwhelming in it meaty richness. 

This was urban solace's version of key lime pie. When the waiter warned me that their version is a little different than a normal key lime pie, I assured him that my first attempt at key lime pie produced a pie that was very different than a normal one and I doubted their's would disappoint, since My first key lime pie was basically a soup, after all. But it was when I promised him not to burst not tears at having to eat it with a spoon that he chuckled and must have really thought I was a tad bit kooky. Anyway, I did think about bursting into tears of happiness because this was so delicious, but instead I just enjoyed each creamy bite.

Well, my lighting for this photo wasn't very good, but I just had to post the best photo I could get of my poached pears with toffee sauce and clotted cream. This was so very tasty and I wanted to include a basic recipe in this post.

Poached pear with toffee sauce and clotted cream

4 pears, partially peeled
4 cups water or 3 cups water and 1 cup white wine
1 vanilla bean, split
1-1 1/2 cups sugar
Cinnamon stick
Piece of fresh, frozen or crystallized ginger

Combine all ingredients. Simmer pears till soft. I had to remove some that were done and continue simmering the others until they were all done. Serve immediately or store in fridge overnight and serve the next day at room temperature with warmed toffee sauce and clotted cream.

Toffee sauce

1/4 cup each of butter, heavy cream, brown sugar
Pinch of salt
Heat on low till melted together. Boil until thickened, approx 4-5 minutes. Can be made ahead and refrigerated, but must be heated and reincorporated before serving. 

Clotted cream

Buy a jar of clotted cream.
If you don't like to buy such ridiculous and expensive things, then simply serve this dish with unsweetened whipped cream. 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Cheery Gift

It may come as no surprise to those who know me, but I dearly love making a very ordinary (or even downright boring) gift special with just a little bit of extra cheery packaging.

Cheerful packaging can be as simple as a beautiful ribbon, or as complex as an expensive roll of paper with carefully selected ribbon and a perfectly matched card.

It doesn't matter much which option I choose, the important thing is making sure that what ever my choice, I make the packaging as perfect as I possibly can. I like to tie a single ribbon, or bit of twine into the most lovely bow I can manage.

Anytime I feel so inclined to indulge in expensive paper for a special gift or recipient, I take the time to find a good box so that I can wrap it with perfect corners and nicely folded down paper edges.

Sometimes the simple addition of a homemade Birthday flag or bouquet of red mushrooms can make a boring looking gift really fun.

Sometimes, cute packaging comes together very easily.

This tiny goody bag comes ready to give. I could have simply stapled the bag shut and it still would have been very cute, but I happened to have the perfect ribbon that I picked up last week on a whim and so I strung it through the top of the bag. I never would have thought to put them together until I had both the bag and the ribbon sitting on the desk together. It was purely accidental, but ended up being perfect.

Side view of the bag. so adorable!!!

reverse side of the bag. even cuter!!!

All these little details help make me feel proud to give whatever gift I have to offer, even if it's just a bar of chocolate or a packages of sticky notes.

And please remember: every day is a gift, and every gift is an opportunity to make someone's day or week a tiny bit brighter