Sunday, December 30, 2007

Teapot muff actually fits

Here it is on the teapot it was really designed for! Looks worlds better than it did on my kettle!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Don't cuddle me, I'm a scientist.

Any of ya'll read S.'s blog? She gives us thoughtful
posts about parenting, academia, and being a
grown-up. Oh, and Ben and I think her toddler,
Dutch, is some kind of genius. Here's a recent
post we both loved.

"Dutch came into the livingroom and sat down with a
crossword puzzle and a crayon, and started coloring
in the boxes.

Cook: What are you doing, Dutch?
Dutch: I'm just sciencing.
Cook: Really?
Dutch: Yeah. I'm just coloring and thinking. That's sciencing.

Later she lay down on the couch next to Cook and he
put his arm around her, whereupon she said 'Don't
cuddle me. I'm a scientist.'"

Christmas cantaloupe?

Just kidding, it's the melt-in-your mouth butternut squash Ben baked for our Christmas dinner. Cinnamon-y and exquisite. Here's some other yummy stuff we inhaled... mashed potatoes with mushroom gravy, my homemade bread stuffing (now with leek!), candied yams, and, in the last photo, fried mujadara:

The scrumptiosity of these little balls of curried lentils and rice cannot be overstated. All you really need to know is that Ben fries them in coconut oil, and that I could eat them every day for the rest of my life.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

This just in: husband enjoys vegan chocolates

Owls and a tea cosy

Now that the big day has passed, I can
show you some knitted Christmas gifts:
first, a winter hat for my dear father-in-
law, who is an avid birdwatcher. The
cables aren't just cables... see the owls?

The other notable (because it's cute and
weird) knitted gift is a real, live tea cosy,
"commissioned" by my wonderful mother-
in-law. Hopefully it fits her teapot better
than it fits the teapot that is modeling it
in this photo! Poor, misshapen cosy!

Oh, Alex

"I confess that nothing frightens me more
than the appearance of mushrooms on the
table, especially in a small provincial town."
--Alexandre Dumas

He may have been one of France's great
writers of novels of high adventure, but
I guess Dumas wasn't a very bold eater.
What would he have done with these
mouthwatering portobellos Ben made
me the other night? They tasted
amazing, by the way. So, vive la

Monday, December 24, 2007

Selfish Knitting Day 2007, with Owl Cables!

Every December, after the knitting frenzy leading up to Christmas gift-giving, I sit on the sofa and knit something for myself--essentially the only time I do so all year, although 2007 did see the creation of the laptop cozy I now use every single day.

This year's day of Selfish Knitting was really several days, and it produced a cabled ear-flap hat of my own design to replace the black one I lost earlier this month. Gaze upon it!

Christmas cookies that are already gone

...which is what I get for making them four whole days before Christmas.

Saturday, December 22, 2007


Cinnamon buns are one of our favorite cold-weather breakfasts. We let the dough rise overnight, then put them in the oven for fifteen minutes while we're making coffee in the morning. And, um, don't forget the frosting.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Clothespin dolls--not just for 1865 anymore

I'd bet our plow and the egg money that clothespin dolls have been around nearly as long as clothespins themselves. Here are a few I made, and here's the link that inspired all of this prairie-style craftivity!

Monday, December 17, 2007

"Thy leaves are so unchanging..."

Ask and you just might receive. Ben and I were given this beautiful, lively-looking (yet artificial) Christmas tree by a generous
and nice young woman from Craigslist! Here it is in our living room, all dressed up.

And speaking of generosity--sometime during an afternoon spent smothering the tree in ornaments and strings of lights, we found an enormous basket of vegan chocolate on our doorstep. A gift from Aunt Nancy and Uncle Ken! Now, Ben and I love fancy dark chocolate just about as much as we love good coffee, so we are in heaven. Our favorite bit so far is this chocolate bar with a cocoa percentage higher than the Minnesota Bar Exam passage rate.

Oh, and before I forget, check out the cutest ornament ever. My husband made it about twenty-five years ago:

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Two angels

Here's the first angel, doing his part to ready our tree for the ornaments I've been socking away all year. I don't think Ben placed a single ornament on the tree (we both know that's the job of an artiste anyway), but he sure does do a good job with the old-fashioned, fat-bulb Christmas lights. One of us dropped a string and broke it, and it wasn't him!

And the sweetest little Chinese angel tree-topper came into my life last month. I know it's uncouth to boast about such things, but I have to tell the world (or at least the four people who read this blog)--I got her for one dollar! I don't know how or why this sweetest of objects found its way to a Minnesota thrift store, but her pageboy haircut, wondering black eyes, and burlap dress bring me nearly to tears!

Tomorrow: photos of the tree festooned with one zillion ornaments.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Bake a vegan applesauce cake today!

With pecans! To make an easy, easy vegan applesauce cake, mix together about 3/4 cup applesauce, 1/2 cup sugar, and 1/4 canola oil. In another bowl, mix a couple of cups of unbleached flour, about 1/2 tsp baking soda, a scant 1 1/2 tsp baking powder, a pinch of salt, a bit of cinnamon, the tiniest pinch of cardamom if you have it, and a handful of nuts. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and combine with as few strokes as possible to keep the batter from getting tough. Pour into a lightly oiled loaf pan or a square Pyrex.

Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, then turn the oven down to 350 and continue baking until a knife inserted into the center comes out crumb-free.

Friday, December 14, 2007

C'est Vrai's new poet laureate

This is a huge deal. A poem by my good friend Julene
Weaver will be the featured piece on Garrison Keillor's
Writer's Almanac on Monday! If you're not already half
in love with Garrison Keillor like I am, all you really
need to know about this dear, gentle soul is that he
is the famed host of A Prairie Home Companion,
he's brilliant, and everyone loves him.

Ben and I were thinking that unless Oprah has a
poetry club we aren't aware of, there is no more
effective way of getting contemporary poetry into
the ears of a national (nay, international!) audience
than radio's Writer's Almanac. Listen to the show
on your NPR station (although don't even ask me
what time it's on), or else listen at your leisure here.
Monday, December 17th is Julene's day!

Now about Julene, a truly special girl Ben and I met
during our work at the AIDS Alliance in Seattle. Her
book of poetry, Case Walking: An AIDS Case
Manager Wails Her Blues
, was published this year
by Finishing Line Press. E-mail Julene at newroots (at) if you enjoy Monday's show. Which you will.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Finals, croissants, and a Robot Pen

One of my favorite art pieces this semester was a series of Minneapolis maps I made from fabric, elastic, thread, sequins, and beads. Here's one of them!

Although there aren't many conventional exams in art skool (I only have one final exam this week), the final projects are really overwhelming, even for nerdies like me who keep things on a pretty even keel throughout the term. For example, I've already spent more than thirty hours (since Friday!) on a comic for my 2-D class. That's what I get for challenging myself to master the Robot Pen, I suppose. On the bright side, my drawing instructor, the gifted painter Michael Kareken, loved the croissant drawing. No technology there, just charcoal and some pretty pastries.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Ourselves the elves

This is what Ben and I would look like if we
were Christmas elves doing the Charleston.
And you thought it was finals week!
Click here for the dancing.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Happy 399th birthday, John Milton!

Today is the birthday of one of the great poets of our language. Although his epic Paradise Lost is said to be Milton's master work, here's a little poem that's one of my favorites. It doesn't take an entire semester to read, either!

Sonnet XIX
John Milton
When I consider how my light is spent,
Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide,
And that one talent which is death to hide
Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest He returning chide,
"Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?"
I fondly ask; But patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies "God doth not need
Either man's work or his own gifts. Who best
Bear His mild yoke, they serve Him best. His state
Is kingly: thousands at His bidding speed
And post o'er land and ocean without rest;
They also serve who only stand and wait."

Does your reading of the poem change if I tell you that Milton wrote this sonnet after losing his vision? Oh, and here's something fun--Milton's true 399th will be on December 21, due to a calendrical complication known as Gregorian Calendar Reform. Great Britain essentially skipped eleven days in 1752, with Wednesday, September 2nd being immediately followed by Thursday, September 14th.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Mmm, cupcakes... mmm, charcoal...

We're working our way through a batch of cherry
cupcakes with chocolate frosting (it's a tough job
but we are stalwart folk) and I've just begun my
third "bakery" drawing--the last in a series of
giant charcoal sketches of the French Meadow's
awe-inspiring bakery display case. The drawing
is in its early stages, so judge it not, but I do think
it already looks kinda delicious... for charcoal.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Winter pot pie is for lovers

A young husband and wife on the cold Minnesota prairie has to have homemade pot pie for dinner now and again. I made this one with a few cups of diced root vegetables (yams, turnips, parsnips, carrots, and potatoes) and a flaky crust. For dessert, apple dumplings (and underexposed photograph)! Now that is some quality wifing right there.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Little hat for little Ben

His mom might read my blog (hi, Jen!), but I'm pretty sure toddler Benjamin (not to be confused with husband Benjamin) doesn't. So it will still be a wooly Christmas surprise. It's a total delight to knit for a three-year-old who DEMANDS to wear his green hand-knit mary-jane slippers every morning.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Snow and molasses

Minneapolis had its first blizzard of the season
this weekend, and I consoled myself, and Ben,
by baking lemon-frosted molasses cakes.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

From the Johnson animation studio...

Ben and I have created our first stop-motion
animation together! Watch it here! If your
connection is slow, you might need to press
play and then pause it while it loads fully.
Regardless, welcome to the Cupcake Forest.