February 28, 2009

Remember that sunny winter weather that got me thinking all sorts of sunny winter thoughts last weekend?

Well, we’re back to gray skies and rain puddles for the most part here in Seattle, so I’ve switched my snuggletime thoughts to springtime thoughts: to courtyard barbeques and morning coffee out of doors, suppers at the tiny table on the back porch, candlelight and cardigans and bottles of white wine.

Naturally, I’m setting my sights on exterior DIY, like this awesome outdoor chandelier from Sunset, frankensteined from thrift-store regulars — an old wire basket, some empty jam jars, a handful of funky crystals, and some wire and chain with which to hang the whole operation:

Too Fairy Godmother? Ditch the baubles and use wooden beads, and trade out the cotton-candy candles for bright blue ones for a more down to earth, granola look. Or substitute the artificial ice with some cherry red tassels and fringe + oxblood candles, and you’ve got yourself an outdoor boudoir. Certainly, at the end of your evening, you’ll want to haul in the candles and any embellishments that could get damaged by rain, so perhaps affixing too many fragile romantic details isn’t the most efficient way to go.

Are you thinking about spring?

Via Apartment Therapy.

In honor of my friend Amelia, who is tart-sweet and spicy. Happy 29th!

Balsamic Chocolate Truffles (with a wink of cherry)

8 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
¼ c. cream
2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
8 dried cherries
½ c. cocoa powder

  1. Put balsamic and cherries into a small pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Remove cherries and discard. Set balsamic aside to cool.
  2. Melt chocolate and cream in a double boiler (or a heat-proof glass bowl over a pot filled with water), making sure the water is hot, not boiling. Place melted chocolate in a small bowl and add the cooled balsamic. Mix well. Cool in the refrigerator about 1 hour. Let sit at room temperature for 1 hour, until firm but moldable.
  3. Roll mixture into one inch balls and place on a parchment lined tray. Pour cocoa powder into a shallow dish and roll balls to cover. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container up to one week.

Via Design*Sponge.

WHO: Jeffrey Gantert and Brad Bloom

WHERE: Portland, Oregon

WHAT: Two teensie, salvage-savvy cottages

SIZE: 364 square feet each

Scraps to supplies, simply.

From olive oil cans to castoff Dairy Queen bench seats, salvage-smarts abound in spades between Jeffrey Gantert and Brad Bloom, the savvy pair behind the two tiny, one-bedroom Portland Garden Cottages.

Self-taught builders Gantert and Bloom left no stone unturned — or, rather, no Dumpster unopened — to kit out their cottages, which make use secondhand materials such as local bakery flour sacks as kitchen wallpaper and terra cotta roof tiles as wall sconces, among other things. Even the siding is recycled: thousands of tomato sauce cans from a Portland pizzeria were transformed into sheets of leather-lookalike siding, with a little help from the weather and a few coats of linseed oil.

The cottages are fully furnished rentals, going for $1k/month, and feature storage lofts, reading nooks (that transform into guest beds) and loads of built-in storage. Living Small in style, and with respect for repurposing? I’ll take it.

Via Oregon Live.

We’re jammin’

February 23, 2009

I wanna jam it wit’ you.

High-five to Re-Nest for this Bob Marley-meets-Queen Mum party theme: jam. Yes, jam! We’re talking jam tasting, pals — a party bursting with the bite of summer fruits:


canned with love (or, perhaps, purchased at the farmers market) by the host. Just add toast and a jamband playlist (I’m thinking the Grateful Dead and the Hampton Grease Band), and you’ve got yourself a simple, Small, and cheap night in with the gang.

In these belt-tightening times, an inexpensive evening with friends is certainly Small, from both a community-building standpoint and, in the case of a homemade jam tasting, a locavore one. And, if you’re into tipples with your toast ‘n’ jam, take a tip from cheapskate extraordinaire Kingsley Amis:

The point here is not simply to stint your guests on quality and quantity — any fool can pre-pour Moroccan red into burgundy bottles, or behave as if all knowledge of the existence of drink has been suddently excised from his brain at 10pm — but to screw them while seeming, at any rate to their wives, to have done them rather well.

(Or, if you want to keep your friends, just serve tea.)

About knitting:

And soup-swappin’:

And tchotchke-remixing:

And cat-snuggling:

What’s on your Feb. 21/22 to-do list?

Endnote: 1) Free Owl Sweater pattern at Needled. 2) My pasta e fagioli, a possible candidate for the Central District Soup Swap on Feb. 24. 3) A Living Small vignette, soon to be transformed. 4) Gulliver the cat, snoozing and snuggle-ready.