Monday, August 12, 2013

Quentin is TWO!

(6 weeks later)

In the spirit of catching up, I felt the need to share pictures from Quentin's birthday. Especially because they include a pretty sweet DIY project made by Trevor. He doesn't get featured all that often on Fraises et Tartines, but he is a man of many talents. Since becoming a home owner and then father he has really stepped up his game. Enough about that for now, though, here's the birthday boy.

Birthday morning. He had school that day so I got up and made some madelaines
for him to share with his classmates. This was very exciting. 

He got to open his first present at breakfast. A garden-theme lunch box with
matching fork and spoon.

Pretty sure he liked them.

Here is the dinner I made for his birthday. Breaded catfish with tomato salsa and green beans.
Fish is his favorite so he was pretty stoked about it. 

After dinner, Quentin got to open a few more presents from maman and papa (us). First up, a doll. Seeing as he's got a baby sister coming soon, we figured we'd get him a "girl doll."

I guess he liked her because he started giving her kisses straight away. 
Lucky boy also got a tool set. And look, here comes the next present...

The wheelbarrow was a big hit. All the tools from his new tool chest apparently needed to be carried in the wheelbarrow. He's been trying to use our big one for so long now (to no's so tall), that he was already pretty adept at using a Quentin-sized version.

And last but certainly not least, Quentin's new picnic table, made by Papa. Trevor busted this out in a day. I couldn't believe it. He's been holding out on me with these carpentry skills!

Q is a big fan. 

Okay now that I'm sitting here, how about a birthday treat? 
How about a homemade madelaine? Yum!
I can't believe my sweet boy is already two. It was just over a year ago that we were having a big first birthday celebration and now, he is firmly in the toddler camp. Time is moving too fast.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

DIY compost sifter

I'm feeling an inkling of blogging energy, so I'm going to attempt to catch up over the next few weeks. No promises, though. I'm clearly not good at keeping blogging promises. 

Anyway, here is a project Trevor and I made together back in June. It's very very simple, but was my first "wood-working" project since wood shop in the 7th grade (which I believe only ever involved a scroll saw. Definitely not a circular saw or hand drill). My compost pile was pretty much finished and I decided I wanted nothing but the best compost for my front yard raised beds. Enter sifted compost. 

I looked at various design ideas on the interwebz and decided on something that would fit over my wheelbarrow so that compost could be sifted directly into it. I also wanted something with handles rather than a square or rectangle to make shaking the sifter over the wheelbarrow a bit easier. 

So, we measured the width of our wheelbarrow to determine how long my pieces with handles would be. If I were going to make another sifter, I would extend the handles just a bit, especially on the far end, so that they'd be less likely to slip off the wheelbarrow when you're shaking the sifter around. Live and learn. 

Here's what I bought to make the sifter: 
2- 8 foot 1x4" pieces of wood
1 roll 1/4-inch hardware cloth 
1 package fence staples (like these). These are the kind you hammer in. I wanted something sturdier than a staple gun would provide.

We decided on the width of the sifter based on how much wood was left without having to buy an extra piece of wood. 

Here are the cuts I made. Trevor insisted that I use the circular saw. I'm glad he did because that was one piece of equipment that completely intimidated me and I'd never wanted to touch it before. Now it seems slightly less scary. Or maybe still scary but less foreign. 

Then I measured and predrilled holes using a countersink drill bit. 

Once everything was drilled together, we measured and cut the hardware cloth with wire cutters and then hammered it in place with fence staples. I told you this was a simple project.  

Here I am testing out the sifter. Note: these pictures were taken in June. My belly is quite a bit bigger now but at the rate I'm catching up you'll never see it before this baby is born in October. 

Beautiful black sifted compost! Ready to amend my soil.

I threw the larger pieces back into my compost bin for further composting.

Quentin saying hi to the ladies. 

Oh boy do I have a story about this special hen. One of these days...

Quentin had a ton of fun trying to help me shake the sifter. He's a sweet little helper that kiddo.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Coming out of a blogging fog

I haven't blogged in a long time. Usually I've noticed my peaks and valleys of blogging correlate with the seasons. In the spring/summer I have more to say because I'm inspired by the ingredients on hand. This time, though, my absence was more related to an extended period of constant nausea, sleeping poorly and generally having a much less energy than usual. 

What do all those things add up to? If all continues to go well, it means a new little person is going to be joining our family in early October! We're thrilled! Even Quentin seems excited about it. 

Here is a "before" picture, at 6 weeks.
This one was at 18 weeks, already a month ago!

Quentin is getting ready to be a big brother. He loves to point out "bebe" in maman's belly, and teases me by calling me "gros maman!" (in French, the word "gros" means both "big" and "fat." So basically my son is calling me fat). 
We also snuck away for a trip to Hawaii in May. By then,  I was feeling better and everyone thoroughly enjoyed some beach and pool time. Quentin is still asking for the "piscine" (pool) almost daily. 
Handsome boy will be two in just a few weeks. I can't believe it!

Speaking of being almost 2, we decided now would be a good time to start Quentin in some part-time "preschool." We were lucky enough to find a French-American school that takes kids starting at 18 months. He started two weeks ago and loves it! I think being around more kiddos on a regular basis is going to be very good for him. And the transition is far enough away from baby's arrival that he wont see it as us abandoning him for the baby. Hopefully. So here is his first "first day of school" picture.

Meanwhile, you can see that I have my energy back. And with it came my crazy ideas, back with a vengeance. After watching a movie about lasagna-style gardening (Back to Eden, if you're interested in watching), we decided to forego the idea of removing our sod before planting a vegetable garden. Instead, we laid newspaper, compost and wood chips directly over the grass. Here was the truckload of free wood chips from a tree trimming company. Thank goodness I said we only needed one truckload! 
Memorial day weekend, with the help of many friends, we completed the project wheelbarrow-full by wheelbarrow-full. It was quite a weekend, but so far the veggies seem to be doing well. I will do a more in depth post about the process soon. For now, thank you thank you thank you to the friends who gave us their time and efforts to help us!!
Whew....having that first post after a long absence feels good. Now I can jump back in with everything going on at our crazy house. It's feeling more and more like the urban homestead I've been dreaming of. I love it and can't wait to share it with you!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Remember this idea?

Homemade blocks out of scrap wood. Yea...that hasn't happened yet. My motivation to sand seems to have waned. Maybe by Quentin's birthday?

Monday, April 8, 2013

No Knead Bread Recipe with Photo Tutorial


I've posted about this recipe before. It was featured in a NY Times article back in 2006, which has probably received billions of hits by now. I still go back to this recipe often and change very little. Occasionally, I'll add a bit of chopped up fresh rosemary or thyme, but really it's so so good on its own. 

Last weekend, we celebrated the impending arrival of my dear friend's new baby. I asked how I could participate in the shower preparations and she asked me to make what she always asks me to make. Pesto and this bread. I decided to make two loaves for this party of 30 people and took pictures along the way to share the process with my readers. 

I suggest you read through the whole process before starting. It takes about 20 hours start to finish, so I usually start it around 2-3 pm the day before I need the bread to be finished. I promise, this is quite easy to pull off. It just takes a lot of time and a little planning.

First, the ingredients:
- 3 cups of flour (all-purpose or bread. I prefer to use bread flour, for higher gluten content)
- 1 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp yeast
- 1 5/8 cup room temp water (the water doesn't need to be as warm as it usually needs to be for bread, since this dough will sit for 18 hours on the counter).


1. Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Then add the water and mix it all up with a spatula or wooden spoon. I would usually use a kitchen aid for making bread, but not for this. It's way too simple to justify washing the kitchen aid after. Just mix until the ingredients are well incorporated. It would be smooth. That's fine, though. Now cover with plastic wrap and wait 18 hours. The original recipe says 12-18, but I really think 18 is best for full gluten development. After 18 hours, it looks like this. Kind of bubbly.

And here's what it looks like when try to pull it off the sides of the bowl. 

2. Put some flour on your countertop and remove dough from the bowl onto the floured surface. I have to use a spatula to get the dough out of the bowl. It's a sticky mess otherwise. Cover with the plastic wrap and allow to rest 10-15 minutes.

3. Now put plenty of flour (original recipe says cornmeal or flour. I prefer to use flour) on a clean kitchen towel and transfer the bread onto it.

Sprinkle more flour  on top of dough and cover with the kitchen towel. Let it rise for another 2 hours.


4. At least 30 minutes before the 2 hour rise is finished, put a cast iron dutch oven in your oven and preheat to 450 degrees F. The cast iron needs to be really hot to get a nice crust on your bread. When it's time, carefully remove the dutch oven and gently flop the dough in. Quickly put the lid back on and put it back in the oven. (And don't forget, the handle on the lid is very very hot!! I have forgotten this before, since I'm used to using it on my stovetop. It wasn't pretty. I suggest leaving your hot pad on the lid so you don't forget).

5. Bake for 30 minutes with the lid on. Remove the lid and bake for another 15 minutes, until the bread is nice and golden. Place on cooling racks and try to hold yourself back from cutting into it right away. Maybe go out and get yourself some nice cheese to eat with the bread. Or olive oil. Or pesto. Really, there are many good options here. Enjoy!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Toddler babywearing

When you want to keep your baby (or puppy in this case) close by, babywearing is the way to go. There are just a few rules to follow. 

1- If baby still doesn't have good neck control, either support baby's head with the wrap or with your hand.

 2- A good rule of thumb for where to place baby on your chest, is that baby should always be close enough to kiss.

3- When you're ready to take baby out, support him with one hand, move the wrap, and...

4- Lift baby out. Gently, of course.

Disclaimer: The way Quentin is "babywearing" his puppy is not a good example of a real wrapping job with a real baby. He's just using a makeshift scarf. If you want more "real" information on babywearing, babywearing Faith on youtube has some great videos! You can also connect with your local chapter of Babywearing International to get help from a babywearing educator.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Moon Sand

Not everything I post about on here should be a success right? Sometimes, you have to be real and share about things that didn't work out so well. Here's one particular "fail." Moon sand. I had seen it on pinterest for a while and wanted to try it out.  

The pin says that you combine 8 cups of flour with 1 cup of baby oil. I only had one of those tiny bottles of baby oil, with 1/4 cup in it. So my recipe was 2 cups of flour and 1/4 cup baby oil.

I mixed it all together and sure enough, it worked and was soft and fun and clumped just like wet sand. That part was not a fail. 

He really seemed to enjoy it for a while. The fail came when...

...he tried to eat it. Again and again. And you're really not supposed to ingest baby oil. So we had table this activity until he's a little older. For now, we'll stick to homemade play dough (flour, salt, water and oil).