Star Trek and Sewing: March 2015

In The Studio

My binge watch for March ended up being Star Trek, the Original Series. I’ve tried watching it in the past but just couldn’t get into it, finally chalking it up to the very heavy “space Western” vibe of the first season. Strangely enough, I really enjoyed Firefly, though, so it’s not like space-Westerns are all bad.. But something about TOS just wasn’t doing it for me.

But! With the passing of Leonard Nemoy, it seemed fitting to give the series another go. I’d made it through a big part of season 1, so this binge was mostly seasons 2 and 3. Season 2 was pretty awesome, so now I’m really glad to have watched it. Season 3? Todd kept asking ‘did you get to the space hippies?’ every time he’d pass my office door. So much that I wondered if it was one of those episodes I just listened too and never looked up during.

Nope. He assured me I wouldn’t be able to miss it, and he was right.

Direct link for the feed readers: Star Trek: The Way to Eden, Main Jam in Lounge

Dude, that’s trippy.

And the series finale? Seeing Kirk have an absolute hissy fit on the bridge was a bit of a treat. Though, in my head, I keep hearing him scream ‘respect my authority’ a la Cartman, which just makes it even more funny.

I’m still a Next Gen fan, but at least I can make that statement fully informed.

What was I doing while Kirk, Spock, and McCoy duked their way through the galaxies? Mostly Sewing.

Since this was the first month we had fabric in hand, I had two Love My Fabrics projects go live:


jvanderbeek_lovemyfabrics_botanicgarden_fabricbasket_fabriceggs_easterdecorFull write-ups and links to their patterns are available on the Love My Fabrics blog: Eggs, Basket I also have a pair of doll outfits going up on Tuesday, using the same fabric set (Botanic Garden, available in a fat quarter pack on etsy)

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter!

For Helmar, this month’s assignment fell due just before Todd’s birthday, so I used it as a kick in the pants to actually make his birthday card instead of buy it. That we’re both in accounting makes the card make more sense.

jvanderbeek_helmar_numbersbirthday_cardI also have a cute little decoupaged bunny hanging going up today!


Finally, over on Gauche Alchemy, the March challenge was to use a quote in our work, and I used the “keep moving forward” quote from the end of Meet the Robinsons for mine. I also learned how to make animated gifs so I could show a (somewhat rapid-fire) time-lapse progress of the canvas I made for the challenge. I think I’ll slow the frame rate down a bit next time.


I also have a secret knitting project in the works and, of course, have been busily “crafting” the business plan for The Crafty Branch. It’s not done yet (bother!) but it’s really coming along and I feel really good about what I do have put together so far. April’s gonna be a big month!



Daring Bakers: Easter Breads


The April Daring Baker’s Challenge was hosted by Wolf of Wolf’s Den . She challenged us to Spring into our kitchens and make Easter breads reflecting cultures around the world.

We actually don’t do a whole lot for Easter–in fact, this year we did absolutely nothing as family members had other engagements and we’d just spent the previous day banging around our new house with no running water… More on that tomorrow! But way back when I’ve been known to make fun and flavorful baked goods at Easter time because why not? I’ve even made the somewhat traditional hot cross buns, though I admit that they weren’t the top of my favorites list. (The bunny rolls might just hold that honor.)

Low-FODMAP Spiced Carrot Breakfast Buns

Low-FODMAP Spiced Carrot Breakfast Buns

At any rate, we were free to use any recipe that fit the bill and the other day, in my feed reader, popped up this Low-FODMAP Hot Cross Buns recipe that seemed promising. But not so promising that I didn’t tweak it on several levels to the point that we’ll consider it an adaptation and I’ll share the recipe below. First, we’re not a big fan of buckwheat flour–it’s one of the few flavors that I just can’t get behind, then there was the dried paw paw (which probably means papaya, but it wasn’t something I had on hand). Hot Cross Buns usually include currants or raisins (which aren’t Low-FODMAP) so I substituted dried blueberries–closer in color and texture, and in such a small quantity as not to present any FODMAP issues; we also subbed macadamia nuts for the pine nuts (both Low-FODMAP, but Todd’s not a fan of pine nuts). Finally, I disagreed with the lack of sugar. Sure, the grated carrots and dried fruit add some sweetness, but sugar adds tenderness to baked goods, and that’s not something you want to forgo with gluten-free baking, so I added some back in.

The results were dense but tasty, and will work perfectly for breakfasts this week instead of my usual overnight oats. If I make these again (and there’s a good possibility of that) I’ll add a pan of water to the pre-heating oven to keep the dough from firming up too much in it’s first “baking” (really more of an accelerated proofing), maybe that will allow the buns to rise a bit more.

Low-FODMAP Spiced Carrot Breakfast Buns
adapted from Resist the Sloth

Makes 18

2 cups lactose-free milk, warmed (between 90-110 degrees Fahrenheit)
1 packet Active Dry Yeast
3 cups Gluten-Free baking blend
1/2 cup Millet Flour
1/4 cup Potato Flakes
1/2 Tbsp Xanthum Gum
1/2 cup Macadamia Nuts, roughly chopped
1/3 cup dried Blueberries
2 Tbsp ground Cinnamon
1 Tbsp ground Nutmeg
1 tsp ground Ginger
1/2 tsp ground Cloves
1/2 tsp ground Allspice
1 egg, gently beaten
2 large carrots, grated (approx. 2 cups)
1/2 cup sugar
4 Tbsp butter, melted

Preheat oven to 215 degrees Fahrenheit. (optional: place an oven-proof bowl of water in the oven while it’s pre-heating)

Sprinkle the yeast on top of the warm milk and let sit while the yeast puffs up. If it’s drafty in your kitchen (or the a/c has just kicked on), cover the bowl to keep the milk from getting too cold.

Combine the flours, potato flakes, gun, nuts, blueberries, and spices in a large bowl; stir to combine.

Combine egg, carrots, sugar, and butter in a small bowl; stir until mixed.

Make a well in the flour mixture and add the carrot mixture and milk mixture, stirring just until combined.

Spoon dough into a gall-sized plastic bag, seal, and snip off one corner. Pipe dough into muffin or doughnut pan wells.

Bake at 212 degrees F for 20 minutes, remove the pan of water (if you used one) and increase the temperature to 350 degrees and bake another 25 minutes, or until the customary hollow thump of a well-done bread can be heard.

AlcoHOLidays | Easter | Trio of the Southern Cross


The “shadowy” origins of many Christian holidays are major bones of contention among the devout and while I’m used to the usual arguments surfacing around Christmas I admit I’m a bit surprised at the furor rampant (at least among my Facebook friends) over Easter‘s influences.

Nutshell: the bunny, chicks, and eggs that don’t really seem like obvious symbols of the Christian resurrection celebration? That’s because they’re actually fertility symbols and yet another example of the Church appropriating a holiday from the people they were trying to sway into their fold. Over time the old pagan symbols may have been assigned new meanings (the egg as a symbol for the empty tomb, for instance) and the original meanings watered down into nothingness for most people. It happened, accept it and move on is my stance, but I’ve heard of several folks adopting the less-controversial Passover rites instead.

Whether your rite of spring leans towards sunrise services, Seders, or sugary confections a nice, refreshing beverage is definitely called for. Maybe you’re trying to balance the richness of kugel, clove-studded ham, or one too many chocolate bunnies, or you’ve looked ahead on the calendar to summer swimsuit season and want to keep your cocktails light and fruity. Any way you look at it, one of these three cocktails is sure to fit the bill.

Each of these three cocktails starts with a base of KAPPA Pisco and end with a topping-off of soda water or, in my case, Perrier. For folks who are not a big fan of plain water, adding bubbles is one way to make it more palatable, but Perrier isn’t just sparkling mineral water, it also comes in a variety of lightly flavored styles. I’ve tried their Pamplemousse Rose (pink grapefruit) before and recently received samples of their unflavored, lemon, and lime styles to try in place of club soda or sugary soda mixers in cocktails. Challenge accepted.

I find club soda to taste, essentially, like “stale” water–I’m not a fan. Admittedly Perrier has a similar trait but for whatever reason the overall flavor is more palatable. Also, if it isn’t silly to say–they’re probably the same, but–the bubbles in Perrier feel smaller, more delicate, than your average club soda. Again, I realize that’s more than likely ridiculous, but perception is perception.

On to the cocktails!

A trio of light, bright drinks perfect for spring!

A trio of light, bright drinks perfect for spring!

KAPPA Fresca

1 ½ oz KAPPA Pisco
3 oz fresh squeezed orange juice
Bottled soda water (or Perrier Lemon)

Pour KAPPA Pisco and orange juice into an ice filled mixing glass.  Shake vigorously.  Strain into an ice filled highball glass.  Top with soda (optional) and garnish with an orange peel.

KAPPA Grapefruit Fizz

1 ½ oz KAPPA Pisco
3 oz grapefruit juice
1 oz bottled soda water (or Perrier Lime)

Pour KAPPA Pisco and grapefruit juice into an ice filled highball glass.  Top with soda water (or lemon lime soda) and garnish with a lime wedge.

 KAPPA Kooler

1½ oz KAPPA Pisco
½ oz simple syrup
Club Soda (or Perrier)
Squeeze a wedge of lemon and lime

Combine all ingredients into a Collins glass with ice. Top with club soda and stir. Garnish with lemon and lime wedge.

Of the three, the KAPPA Grapefruit Fizz was my favorite while, surprisingly, Todd preferred the KAPPA Kooler, even though the flavor was mostly the KAPPA itself and he hadn’t liked the pisco neat when we did the tasting. Just goes to show that it only takes a little bit to take a drink from eh to excellent. The KAPPA Fresca, while neither of our favorites, is still a nice twist on the screwdriver or mimosa classics.



I received samples of both KAPPA Pisco and Perrier. All opinions expressed are my own.

March Hare Digital Stamp Duo by Jennifer "Scraps" Walker

Introducing… Fishie Gallore!


If you get the Gauche Alchemy newsletter, The Dirt, then you may have already had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Fishie, but if not, why don’t y’all get acquainted.

Catch Me If You Can, mixed media canvas, Copyright 2013 Jennifer "Scraps" Walker

Catch Me If You Can canvas for Gauche Alchemy

This canvas started out as a way to use some postcard images shared by fellow Alchemist Marilyn, but then took a turn towards art therapy when I suffered a creative disappointment (no worries, I’m over it now) and was feeling a little down. I needed a fish image that was basically “giving the fin” to the others, and there was nothing else to do but draw her myself.

Closeup of Fishie Gallore by Jennifer "Scraps" Walker

“Suck it, Fishes!” She’s one sassy piece of tailfin!

I could have stopped there, but I’ve been having fun with the concept of digital stamps, so decided to go through the scanning and cleaning-up she’d require to make her usable by me and others. You can now find Ms. Fish in my etsy store, along with some other digital stamp designs just in time for Easter.


Easter Lily has a bit of an Alice in Wonderland vibe to it.

Easter Lily Digital Stamp by Jennifer "Scraps" Walker

While March Hare and Bottoms Up are much more playful (I can never resist a good pun!).

March Hare Digital Stamp Duo by Jennifer "Scraps" Walker

Bottoms Up Digital Stamp Duo by Jennifer "Scraps" Walker

If you’ve never played with digital stamps before, they’re a bit of a cross between clip art and rubber stamps. They work the same as a rubber stamp in that you can print them out, color them, and use them on cards, scrapbook layouts, tags, and for other personal, decorative items; but since they’re digital you can resize them and flip them around–things I’ve always wished you could easily do with rubber stamps. The files you’ll receive are all hi-res jpeg and png files made from my original drawings that I’ve scanned, that you can open in any word processing or photo software (like Open Office Writer, Word, Photoshop Elements, even Paint).

(Clicking any of the stamp images above should take you right to my etsy page.)

Any questions, just ask!

Reviving an Easter Tradition


When I was a little girl, we lived with my grandmother for a few years before moving several states away from all of our extended family. Of that time, holidays always seem to stand out in my memories. Easter was no exception.

We’d color eggs the night before, making sure that each egg bore the name of a family member and then, before I went to bed, we’d leave the carton with the colored eggs out on the table. In the morning I’d get up, run to the kitchen table and peer up at all the eggs nestled amongst that cellophane Easter grass on a big silver platter.

One year I swear I saw the Easter bunny hopping away down the driveway, but everyone says I just dreamed that.

Well, last fall my aunt–the youngest of my father’s siblings–was in town and we were reminiscing after dinner and this story came up. Turns out my aunt was in possession of said silver platter (Maw-Maw having passed away while I was in high school, many [many] years ago) and a couple of months ago that very platter was FedExed to me at work.

So this year, with friends coming over for Easter dinner (my family was either out of town or otherwise engaged on Sunday), Todd and I revived that tradition by making everyone an egg with their name on it (plus a few more) and, just before they arrived, set them all out on the tray.

Easter Eggs on a family tray

In year’s past I’ve gone to various lengths with egg dying (the year of the plaid-dyed eggs stands out as the most memorable) but this year we went old school–colored dye dots and a wax crayon. Instead of the shredded cellophane, though, I used the edible Easter grass (looks and feels like Styrofoam but is actually pretty tasty)–some things are worth updating!

One of these days we’ll buy a “real” dining room table

With 8 people* for dinner we swapped out our small (yet completely functional) IKEA kitchen table for a folding table and our patio table brought in for extra elbow room. These tables work great but they’re still not wide enough to hold place settings and the serving dishes so the meal was served buffet-style from the kitchen. Except the rolls, those fit on the table.

Brioche Bunny Rolls

To dress up the plain ivory tablecloth and plates, I cut egg-shaped place mats from wallpaper sample books and added mismatched napkins from my magpie-like stash (I buy random cloth napkins when they go on sale and use them as covers for hand-bound journals)–no two anything matched. A mini-“basket” (cocktail cup full of candy) at each place-setting finished the suddenly festive table.

Easter TableThe menu was

(deviled eggs, pimento cheese with celery, chocolate covered matzo, & spinach dip with crackers)

Decorated Deviled Eggs

Andalusian Lamb (come back for the recipe on Thursday)
Roasted Vegetables (red potatoes, rutabaga, turnips, parsnips, carrots and onions)
Broccoli and Brussels Sprouts Salad
Fruit Salad
Brioche Bunny Rolls

Easter Buffet

And one of our guests brought Cheesecake for dessert with a choice of toppings. Everything was delicious (though I still need to tweak the dressing on the broccoli/sprout salad, should I ever make it again).

The kitchen table got moved into the library to hold all the Easter goodies. Frankly, I’d hoped our guests would have taken more candy home with them–we still have quite the sugar haul for just 2 people.

Easter Candy Candy Candy

After dinner we kept on with the traditions (this time, a newer one) and played a round of Killer Bunnies and the Quest for the Magic Carrot, snacked on candy and engaged in light-hearted smack talk as we tried to be the last bunny standing with the right carrot. Todd was that bunny.

It was a wonderful afternoon spent in even better company with enough leftovers that we don’t need to cook for at least another day. A win all the way around.

*we were supposed to be 8, but a couple of last-minute cancellations brought us down to only 6


Food safety note: I’m sure (I hope) my family didn’t actually leave the eggs out all night. Most likely they went back in the fridge right after I went to bed and someone got up very early and set them out before I got up. At least I hope so. Even hard-boiled eggs should be refrigerated, folks.