Tuesday, December 20, 2022

A Little Something for the Moths: Lavender Bags

A little something for the moths at makeitbakeitbuyitfakeit

I have a lot in common with the moths in my house. Actually, it's just one thing we share: a love of wool. We like to do different things with it of course. When it's cold out, I like to wear wool sweaters, coats, scarves, and socks. They—just like to eat all those things. 

After battling them for what seems an eternity, I have learned a lot about our little friends the clothes-moths. My best advice? Never let them in the door in the first place. They are guests who will never leave. Like many bugs, they like areas that are dark and undisturbed for long periods of time. In fact, they can remain in a dormant state for a LOT longer than you would imagine, just to pop up again later... after you'd thought they were gone for good. 

What can you do? Well, I have no proof, but I suspect that they (and their bazillions of eggs) don't like extremes in temperature. To that end, I have been known to: toss certain items into a hot dryer (not the washer, just the dryer), iron them (without steam), and have even put a favorite sweater in a plastic bag and stashed it in the freezer for a week after I found it snacked upon.

Whether in my closet and drawers during winter and spring, or packed away for summer and fall, I always tuck lavender sachets among my sweaters, in the pockets of my coat, on top of the hats, down the sides of the socks, and underneath the scarves. Moths absolutely hate lavender, cloves, and cedar more than anything else. I am beyond delighted that something I find pleasant and natural is an effective deterrent to the little dears.

So move your woolens around, shake them out often, wear them a lot, and clean them before storing them for the season. And if you have a spare minute, make the moths a little gift of some dried lavender (and/or cloves and cedar) tied up in cotton bags. If you don't feel like sewing, a clean sock will work too, or put the mixture in paper envelopes that you've poked some holes into with a thumbtack. One last thing: If you notice your sachets losing their scent over time, they can be refreshed with essential oils.

Thinking of you 
(and your favorite sweater),


PS... these little critters also love to eat cashmere, mohair, and silk... and are even attracted to pet hair! Basically any and all protein-based fibers. Don't say I didn't warn you.


Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Saying Yes! to December (and Norwegian Waffles)

Haven’t been around here much lately. This %#&@! year was letting me know it wasn’t going to go quietly away. September was transitional, like that carton of milk you have to ask your housemate to smell because something about it doesn't seem quite right. October was particularly awful – all tricks and no treats. November got an extra emphasis on its first syllable and shouted “NO!” a lot… or maybe that was me?

But here we are now in December already! Will things continue as they have been or turn around and change their tune? It's too soon to tell. The month is still young even if the year isn’t. I'm going to do my best to be positive. I dearly want this month to say “Yes!” a lot. Heck, I'd be probably be happy with a "maybe" here and there. Yes! I would.

In order to kick things off on a positive note, I made some waffles last weekend. Not just any waffles, Norwegian Waffles. But since I’m all about the Yes! this month, I’m calling them Yes-wegian waffles (Yes! I know it’s silly... Yes! I don't care).

I’ve never gotten the knack of Norwegian Pancakes and have long since stopped attempting them. But Norwegian Waffles? Yes! Yes, I can (and so can you)! They are easy-peasy and are especially festive and appropriate this time of year as they are delicately scented with cardamom and Christmastime. Two of my favorite things.

My hubby, though half-Norwegian, preferred them with butter and maple syrup* while I really enjoyed eating them the Norwegian way: with a smear of sour cream (or plain Greek yogurt) and a dab of berry preserves. Ultimately though, they're waffles... what's not to like, right? I'm making them again today. Yes, I really am!

So, with thanks and apologies to Arne & Carlos, whose recipe I fiddled with, here is the "how-to" in case you want to try them...

Norwegian Waffles
(aka: Yes-wegian Waffles)
…adapted from the Arne & Carlos: Norwegian Waffles podcast

1-2/3 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 Tbsp cardamom
1 tsp baking powder
1 good pinch of fine sea salt
1-2/3 cups half-n-half  
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
5 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Whisk dry ingredients together.
  2. Add wet ingredients, mixing well after each addition.
  3. Let batter sit for 30 minutes.
  4. A few minutes before the time is up, begin preheating your waffle maker.
  5. Ladle enough batter into your preheated waffle maker to make one waffle. Amount will vary depending on your maker.
  6. Repeat until all batter is used.
Notes: The original recipe made twelve waffles. My waffle maker yielded eight with this recipe. Your results will undoubtedly vary. Any uneaten waffles can be reheated the next day or frozen for next weekend! Or... use leftovers to make ice cream sandwiches! Yes, please!

Optimistically Yours,



* I love maple syrup, but it has such a strong presence that the lovely (and pricey!) cardamom just gets lost.

PS... this blog post was brought to you by the punctuation mark that I try not to over-use, but is just so loaded with potential positivity I couldn't help myself!

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

An Ice Cream Conundrum (Triple Mint Chip Ice Cream)

Real Mint Ice Cream isn't Green!
Nearly every recipe for home made ice cream I've made says something along the lines of, "eat within 3 days" or "keep for up to a week in the freezer". Why three days? Why a week? Well, I have personally done some highly non-scientific home-testing on this subject and am here to tell you: Ice cream you make from scratch will keep just fine for longer than a week. It will last even up to four weeks! None of the test subjects lasted longer than four weeks because that happens to also be the absolute and total limit of our self-control... or I might have just forgotten it was in the freezer. Oops.

The only reasoning I could find anywhere for the 3-day/one-week rule was that the ice cream could start to lose it's flavor the longer it sat in the freezer. It may happen to some extent, but it doesn't go from luscious to unpalatable after that one-week mark. I, for one, haven't discerned any noticeable deficiency of flavor in the ice creams I've made, nor did any of them pick up any off-odors during their one to four weeks in the icebox. That said, the chocolate chips, nuts, and other mix-ins will suffer texturally if frozen too long, but the ice cream itself will be fine.
So go ahead and make the homemade ice cream more than a week ahead of when you need/want it, just save the textured tidbits for sprinkling on top when you serve it... and don't forget that it's in the freezer! Wondering what kind of iced cream to make? Here's a good one if you really like mint—or are ambivalent about it but happen to have a ton of it taking over your yard...
Triple-Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream 
Start with a good, natural (actual mint leaves), Mint Chip Ice Cream recipe. I love this fantastic recipe from David Lebovitz. Then, instead of using just one type of mint, substitute a combination of three different varieties. The three that are growing in my back yard are: Peppermint, Chocolate Mint (a variant of peppermint), and Spearmint. I've found that a 2/3 to 1/3 mix of peppermints to spearmints made a nice balance, but play around with it. Don't sweat it if you can only find two varieties. Just call it "Double-Mint"! Side Note: If you're not going to eat it right away, for heaven's sake don't use the cheap mini chocolate chips like I did one time... the texture was not pleasant.
The first time I made this Mint Chip Ice Cream I could not get over how very different it was from store-bought Mint Chip ice cream. For instance, did you happen to notice that the ice cream in my photo is not green? It is the barest hint of green-tinged beige. Real mint-infused foods are not actually green.
While the flavor of this ice cream is undeniably mint, it doesn't taste like hyper-flavored fake mint flavoring. It doesn't shout, it whispers. It is not a blast of mint, it is a wafting of it. This is a subtle... lingering... complex... and layered creamy mint that tastes of a late afternoon in the garden at the height of summer. 
Which, incidentally, is right now (I don't care what the calendar says)...

Stay cool out there,

Saturday, August 29, 2020

This is (and isn't) Etegami

My first Etegami: Tomato Arrival!
Etegami means "picture letter" in Japanese and it's a charming way to send thoughts and well-wishes to friends and family. It takes very little to get started: paper, ink, watercolor, a brush or two. There are a few rules of course, but deviate from those traditional confines a little (or a lot!) and you've still got something you can proudly call "mail-art" which you can use to connect with somebody you know. And really, who wouldn't love to get something nice in the mail for a change?

At its most basic, Etegami is a handmade postcard featuring: a seasonal object outlined with a brush and black ink on absorbent paper, a few strokes of watercolor paint inside that outline, a meaningful quote/verse/thought that relates to the image, followed by a signature (hanko or chop)... and then mailed. That last bit is crucial. It must be mailed or it is not etegami. Follow-through is an integral part of the process!

What I love the most about etegami is that anybody can do it: young, old, artistically inclined or not. It doesn't have to be good... in fact, shaky, clumsy, awkward lines and dabs are not only preferred, but built-in (and frankly, guaranteed) by the way you're supposed to hold your brushes! This is an art form created for loosening up, being in the moment, and for genuinely connecting with each other.

The tomato etegami above, ticks many of the boxes for a "real" etegami, but not all. For one thing, I did not use the proper paper. Because Japanese etegami paper tends to be scarce (and/or pricey) state-side, I used what I had, which was watercolor paper. Other than that, the subject was seasonal and in front of me, the sentiment related to the both the recipient and the subject, and there were no shadows or backgrounds to clutter it up.

That was my very first etegami* and was sent to a family member who was going to be visiting us a couple of years ago. At that time, like now, our beefsteak tomatoes had just started to turn red, and their peak would coincide with the arrival of our visitor. The double meaning of the sentiment I chose is very much in keeping with the etegami spirit (playfulness is encouraged!) 

If you want to learn more about etegami, you can find an incredible wealth of generous and fascinating information at the blog: DosankoDebbie's Etegami NotebookSide Note: I have spent an embarrassing amount of time on her blog over the years, it's just such a wonderful and inspiring place to wander around in.
Etegami is one of those things that is paradoxically simple and complex. So, while there is plenty of enjoyment for everybody to wade around in, there are also many layers of nuance to uncover should you wish to dive deeper into it.
Though still not very widespread outside of Japan, Etegami is so charming and enjoyable, it is definitely deserving of a wider appreciation and participation. And don't fret about the supplies or the rules... it's more important to use what you've got and get them mailed out.
Another nice thing: postcard stamps cost a lot less than letter-rate postage! So now that there's nothing to stop you... Go make somebody's day!

Clumsily yours,

*My first clumsy attempt. But remember: Etegami embraces clumsiness! Call it "anti-perfectionism" if you will. It's not about how good it is! It's real, it's immediate, and most importantly: it shows a human/personal heart and hand.

Saturday, August 22, 2020

It's Too Hot to Cook! Breakfast Edition

Easy, Healthy, and Delicious... Soaked Muesli
Muesli — it's what's for breakfast at my house... especially when it's too hot to cook (or I just don't feel like it).

Granola is great of course, if you have it on hand... refrigerator oats are an option too, though they tend to be too "soupy" for my liking, and have a strange texture... we've even eaten toasted oats with yogurt which was actually pretty tasty. This acid-soaked method, is an even healthier option (and possibly even easier) than all of the above.

We started eating oats this way a couple of years ago and it quickly became part of the regular rotation of breakfast favorites, especially in the warmer months. The trick to this method is a long soak in acidulated water. I'm not going to get into all the nutritional science (not my forté) but will try to explain a bit of it in basic terms. Oats contain phytates that our bodies can't break down and which prevent access to all of the available nutrients. By soaking the oats for eight to 24-hours (or more) with certain acids, those phytates are broken down somewhat so when we eat them, we get what amounts to a nutritional backstage pass.

As with most things, I found a glut of conflicting information regarding how to do this, why to do this, how long to do this, etc. So here's my caveat: I'm not a health professional. Do your research. Decide for yourself. Eat a variety of foods. Be kind to one another. Now back to our regularly scheduled programming...

Soaked Oats (aka Muesli for Two)

Soaking it...
Mason jar with lid (10-12 ounce cap.)
1 cup Old-Fashioned Rolled Oats
2 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV), lemon juice, or plain yogurt
Filtered Water
  1. Add the oats and the ACV to the jar, and top with the filtered water leaving a little space at the top. 
  2. Put the lid on and give it a good shake. 
  3. Leave on the counter until ready to eat (aim for 24 hours). I've had mine out for up to 4 days and it's fine.
  4. Shake again once or twice during the day so you feel more a part of the process.
After soaking it (before eating it)...
1/8 tsp Sea Salt
2 tsp Cinnamon
  1. When you're ready to have it for breakfast, dump the contents of the jar into a mesh sieve over the sink.
  2. Rinse well with cold water and drain well. I usually "bounce" it a few times to get as much liquid out as I have the patience for.
  3. Plop the oats into a bowl and mix in the salt and cinnamon. 
  4. Divide the oats equally into two serving bowls.
Eating it...  
I always shred a green apple into our muesli. It's a key element in traditional muesli and also makes it taste awesome. Perhaps because grating releases more juice than chopping? Other types of apples will taste good too, but the sweet/tart of the green apple plays really nicely with the other ingredients.

Split the following between the two bowls of Muesli:

1 large Granny Smith apple (or 2 small), shredded
1 cup Full-fat Plain Greek Yogurt 
Cream (or Raw Milk if you've got it)

Then top with any of these:

Fresh, Frozen, or Dried Fruits
Toasted Nuts and Seeds
Shredded Carrot
Unsweetened Coconut 
Ground flax seed meal
Candied Ginger, diced 
a drizzle of Raw Honey or Maple Syrup 
Chocolate Chips (yes, we did that)
Anything else that sounds good!

Why I love it...
This muesli-method of oats served us well during the fires last fall when our power was cut off for nearly week (for our safety!) and we were forced to camp out at home without a means of cooking or storing fresh food. I made four jars of it and was so happy that it didn't have to take up space in our ice chest.

As they have started cutting our power recently due to high heat (and bonus: there are fires again too!)... I thought I'd share this with you in case you are in any situation that could benefit from a super easy healthy customizable breakfast... one that you can make a day or more ahead of time... and doesn't need to be cooked or refrigerated. Perfect for weekdays, weekends, camping, and sheltering-in-place without power!


Stay safe and healthy,



PS... I typed meusli and spellcheck gave me the option of the correct spelling or the word "slime".  Spellcheck: handy and yet so very bizarre at the same time.