Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Salted Caramel Hazelnut Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Just under the wire, September's Cookie of the Month!  All I have to say is: Oh. My. Yes!!!  Make these cookies.  Like, NOW!  It's this recipe from Bakerella (originator of the cake pop!).  It's basically a riff on a chocolate chip cookie, but it is becoming clearer to me that everything in the world tastes better when you add salted caramel to it and sprinkle it with sea salt.

Joseph has decided they are the best cookies he's ever had.  Hasn't he said that every month?  But no, they are really, really good.  I'm sure they'd even be fine with just regular chocolate chips instead of the $13 box of Guittard chocolate discs from Williams-Sonoma.  It is imperative that I bake another batch immediately to see if that is true.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Urban Country

A quilt for little Jerry!  Brent's cousin, Mindy, recently had a baby boy, and you just know I had to make him a quilt.  It's what I do!

What's unique this time around is that Mindy's mom, Brent's Aunt June, asked me in advance if I would make baby Jerry a "Realtree" camouflage quilt.  I love camo, so even though I didn't know what "Realtree" was, I agreed without hesitation.   Turns out "Realtree" is a brand, and it looks like....wait for it.... Real. Trees. (!!!)  June sent me 3 yards of this stuff from Louisiana, and I really had a mental block figuring out how on Earth I was going to use it. It was such a large scale print that I didn't think it would work if I cut it up, and then I finally had an epiphany: don't cut it up.  Just use it for the backing, and coordinate fabrics for the front.  However, there's also not another print in the world that would coordinate with this stuff, so I decided to go with all solids.

Most of the solids have delicious names like basil, chocolate, cappuccino, caramel, and espresso, but my all time favorite was one that I added later on called "dirt."  To balance out the clearly nature-inspired influence of the backing, I chose a distinctively modern and urban-influenced pattern from the book City Quilts by Cherri House, called City Tracks.  Completely my style, and the whole time I was thinking a good name for this quilt would be "Nature vs. Nurture."

My regular quilt holder extraordinaire was working, so Joseph happily volunteered to help me take photos of Jerry's quilt.  Unfortunately he was (1) too short and (2) too goofy to truly be helpful.

Luckily Brent arrived to save the day so I could get some standard shots.  It's a little bit big for a baby quilt, at 48" x60", but he'll grow into it.

The main block is made in "strip sets," and there were plenty of end pieces left over.  So I made a "mini" version of the quilt too! I figured Mindy could use it as a burp cloth, or Jerry might like it as a "lovey."  I was also trying to use up the rest of that Realtree fabric....

Seriously, 3 yards is actually a lot of fabric.  In fact, there was so much still left that I decided to use it for the binding too.  I think this stuff was haunting me - even the trademark showed up in the binding!

The quilting was pretty basic, just straight lines in a neutral color a half inch on either side of the black stripe.

Look, I really do love camouflage - check out my shorts.  Total coincidence!  But I still wouldn't blend in with a real tree the way Realtree does.

Thursday, September 25, 2014


Joseph threw up once in the middle of the night, so we kept him home from school on Monday.  Other than having no appetite (his universal sign of being sick), he was perfectly fine, and we had a great Daddy/son day playing games, baking muffins, and watching movies.  But after more than 12 hours of watching him wiggle and fuss with that loose tooth of his, I finally had to ask if he would just let me yank it out.  He surprisingly agreed.

Cue the Tooth Fairy.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Three Stripes and You're Out

No, wait, it's 3 strikes and you're out.
Three stripes is good news!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Grounds For Sculpture

We heard through various people that there was a fun sculpture garden somewhere in NJ near my parents' house, so during our recent visit home we looked it up and checked it out.  Grounds For Sculpture is a 42 acre park and museum with over 270 works on display.  It was founded by artist Seward Johnson, and it is currently holding a retrospective of his work.  There are many other artists' contemporary sculptures on display throughout the gardens.......

....but everywhere are what Seward is most known for, his life-size tromp l'oeil painted bronze statues "celebrating the familiar" - everyday people doing everyday things.

The grounds themselves are beautiful, with water features, gardens, and tree lined paths.  Most of the outdoor statues and sculptures are meant to be interacted with!

Many of Seward's works on display are part of "Icons Revisited," works inspired by famous images, like paintings and photographs.  Among them, Renoir's "The Luncheon of the Boating Party," Edward Munch's "The Scream," and a 26 foot tall Marilyn Monroe.

Joseph not only got an interesting perspective up Ms. Monroe's skirt, but had fun inserting himself into famous paintings like "Girl With a Pearl Earring," "Mona Lisa," and "American Gothic."

The water garden was probably my favorite area, and I particularly liked this work called "Relative."

In one of the indoor spaces was a display called "Beyond the Frame," where Seward reproduced famous paintings three dimensionally, and people are encouraged to fully interact in and with the environment.  There are cameras set up so you can see what look like the paintings framed in the hall, but then people just show up in them!

So much more to see outside...... another one I particularly liked was "King Lear." (As an aside, Joseph is coincidentally loving King Lear and other children's versions of Shakespeare right now, so that was fun for him to see.  He could not, however, remember any of King Lear's 3 daughters' names.)

We even came upon another version of "American Gothic" outside, but the scale of this thing is huge!  The corn is dwarfed next to it.

Our last area to visit was The Meadow, home to one of one of the most well known sculptures to us. I would not have been able to tell you that Seward was the artist behind "The Awakening," which is such an iconic sculpture in the DC area, now residing at National Harbor.  We were so surprised to find a copy of the 70 foot long, 5 part statue of a giant emerging from the earth, with its 17 foot tall arm reaching into the sky, here in my home state!

Whether you visit "The Awakening" in NJ or DC, a kid is always going pick the giant's nose, for sure.