There's nothing like a tart lemon treat in the dead of winter.  Deana, the winner of my cookie giveaway, selected the Chewy Lemon Snowdrop cookies from the Sophistimom blog.  I was glad to have good reason to get back in the kitchen (albeit with a baby at my feet) and the cookies turned out great!

Here's a link to the recipe.  I tasted the cookies straight out of the oven and thought they needed an extra lemon punch, so I whipped up a simple lemon glaze using fresh lemon juice and powdered sugar.  I brushed the mixture over the cookies and let it dry before sprinkling them with a little more powdered sugar (rather than rolling them in it).

Once I'm done here I'm going to head over to Pinterest and start collecting some more recipes!

Also coming up are some colorful refurbished coasters using a cork-backed set from the Dollar Store - inspired by some lovely quilt designs on my "Inspired" board!

Hexagon Park on Moda Bake Shop

Crossed Quilt Block on The Long Thread

A Little Help From My Friends Quilt on Sew Take a Hike

Ruby Star Mod Mosaic Quilt on Oh, Fransson!


cookies, coming up!

The winner of a fresh batch of Chewy Lemon Snowdrop cookies is Deana!

Hopefully she won't mind if I taste test a few to make sure they're good enough to share.  I'll be hand delivering them tomorrow morning.  Yum!

Thanks to Jaime at Sophistimom for sharing the recipe and for allowing me to use her photo!


yum yum giveaway

Tell me you're not as obsessed with Pinterest as I am.  

I'd heard of the site from a few sources but finally joined when "following" certain people earned me extra entries in some online contests.  Pinterest allows you to "pin" basically anything to categorized electronic boards, whether its a recipe, home decor items you covet, hairstyle ideas, or planning notes for your upcoming wedding.  You browse the internet, or the boards of other users, and pin whatever strikes your fancy.

I'm finding the site to be a springboard for creativity.  The art and DIY projects found on the boards of the people I follow are concentrated awesomeness.  No need to spend hours picking through silly ideas that are outdated, impractical, or just plain unattractive.  Pinterest displays the best of the best at a glance.

The best part about the recipes I've been pinning to my Yum Yum Recipes board is that they're all accompanied by a gorgeous photograph - since all pins are represented by a photo on your boards.  I'm finding myself partial to the breakfast and brunch offerings across the web, but there are some awfully tasty looking cookie recipes too.

With the weather in Portland being very conducive to baking lately, I'm hosting a new giveaway in honor of my new found Pinterest addiction.  The winner will score a batch of their choice of delicious cookies, selected from the recipes below. 

To enter, just leave a comment below with which cookie you'd choose and why it looks the best.  Make sure you're a follower of SaraPDX (by clicking "Join This Site" on the right hand side of the page).  I'll ship within the United States (or hand deliver, of course).  The contest closes TONIGHT at midnight!
Photo by Lauren at Lauren's Latest

Photo by Jaime at Sophistimom


and the winner is...


Thanks to those who participated!  McKenzie, please email me your mailing address and your prize will be on its way.  

Stay tuned, because I'm thinking about offering up another prize (maybe something delicious?) over the holiday weekend.


green chile chicken enchiladas

Behold!  A recipe I can call my own.  (Which may or may not undergo additional tweaking in the future.)  

I like to roast my own green chiles under the oven broiler, but you can also purchase canned green chiles in the Mexican food aisle.  I used 2 Pasilla peppers in my last batch and the level of heat was great for us.  Bump it down to 1 for less spice, or add a roasted jalapeno for even more!

Check out my easy technique for warming the corn tortillas to achieve the perfect texture that isn't prone to tearing.  This recipe stacks the tortillas, but rolling them is also an option.
  • 2 Anaheim or Pasilla chile peppers
  • 1 lb. tomatillos
  • 1 c. chicken broth
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1/2 c. onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 c. cilantro
  • 1 pre-cooked rotisserie chicken, meat removed and shredded
  • 2 c. shredded Mexican cheese blend (approximately)
  • 18 corn tortillas
  • vegetable oil
Broil chile peppers on a baking sheet in the oven, turning occasionally, until blackened on all sides.  Place chiles in a bowl covered with plastic wrap or aluminum foil.

Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.  Remove husks from tomatillos and halve or quarter depending on their size.  Bake for 10-15 minutes until tender.  Raise oven temperature to 400 degrees after removing tomatillos.

Peel skin off of cooled chile peppers, de-seed, and roughly chop.

Combine chicken broth, mushroom soup, chile peppers, tomatillos, onion, garlic, and cilantro in blender.  Blend until smooth.  Transfer to a large frying pan and warm over medium-low heat.

Grease a 9x9 inch baking dish with vegetable oil.  Ladle some of the warmed sauce in and spread to cover the bottom of the dish.

Brush vegetable oil lightly on both sides of 6 corn tortillas.  Stack on a microwaveable plate and microwave for 10 minutes, until warm and pliable.  Carefully arrange the tortillas on top of the sauce so the bottom is again covered.  Spread more sauce on top of the tortillas.

Layer 1/2 of the shredded chicken on top, followed by 1/3 of the shredded cheese.  Continue layering with sauce, 6 more warmed tortillas, sauce, the rest of the chicken, 1/3 of the cheese, sauce, the remaining tortillas, and then finish with one more layer of sauce and then the rest of the cheese.  Saucy layers are a good idea because they'll dry out a bit while baking, but this recipe will probably yield a bit more sauce than you need.

Bake covered in the 400 degree oven for 15 minutes.  Remove cover and bake for an additional 10 minutes.  Turn the oven to its broiler setting and cook until the cheese is nicely browned.  Yum.  The leftovers are even better.


a little luck & a little giveaway

Contests, sweepstakes, raffles, giveaways. . . I cannot get enough of them!  Here are some of my simple tips and tactics.  Keep reading for a chance to win your own little giveaway.

I've had a lot of "luck" with contests for as long as I can remember.  In elementary school I won a coloring contest (I used the school's colors, blue and gold, in the design) that earned me lunch with the principal, including a Nestle Crunch ice cream bar for dessert (strangely memorable).  I've also won $100 and an art tote bag in two different writing contests in the past couple years.

  • Tip:  Skill contests draw far fewer entrants, increasing your odds, so look for those that match your talents.
  • Tip:  Consider your audience when entering a skill contest and tailor your entry to appeal to their preferences.

Two years ago I attended the annual Christmas party at my apartment complex and was the grand prize winner - $500 off a month of rent!  The next year I won a free carpet cleaning and this year I won a $50 gift card to a fancy Portland steak house.

  • Tip:  Enter local contests!  These are some of your best odds.  Check the websites for radio, newspaper, and local businesses for even more opportunities.

Just yesterday I won a new casserole dish, pasta fork, cheese grater, and a jar of steak seasoning from a small cooking blog!

The About.com Contests & Sweepstakes page is a great resource for contests across the internet.  These are often for the biggest prizes like cash, vacations, and vehicles, but there's also a page for instant win contests with more prizes and better odds.

I'll also search Google on occasion, looking for contest, sweepstake, blog giveaway, or some similar search terms, and then restricting the results to the last 1 hour, 24 hours, or 1 week.  I'll try searching for the word giveaway along with a specific item I want to win, too (like an iPad2 or a Silhouette Cameo).

Now, for a modest giveaway of my own.  

For your chance to win a Powell's Books mug and a copy of Coffee Time with Perk Up Puzzles, Brainteasers, and Trivia, comment below with your answer to the following question AND make sure you're a follower of SaraPDX.  U.S. residents only, please.  Entries will be accepted until midnight PST on Wednesday, January 11th.  Good luck!  

What's the best prize you've ever won in a contest?



Browsing through old entries reminded me of past projects, items that were created and given away, experiences that became fuzzy over time.  Having a rolling log of these events is conducive to creating more (because you know you have the focus and skill to do so), being more open to adventure (because the results, good or bad, will likely be an entertaining read), and becoming a vigilant recorder (because your readers are counting on you).

It looks like some bookmaking is in my near future, so I decided to compile in one spot photographs of all the books I've made (I don't think I'm missing any...).  I became interested in book arts several years ago when I somehow learned about the craft of non-adhesive bindings.  I've always loved books - particularly the tactile value of them - so I was thrilled to discover they were something I could build myself.  Here's the very first book that resulted, its cover adorned with a hand carved leaf stamp.

As I uncovered more tutorials, instructional books, and supply sources, I learned that a wealth of different book structures were possible.  I graduated to books that utilize pages which are sewn together and are either sewn to their covers or joined with glue.  I started collecting gorgeous tools and materials that now make me happy to just to look at!  Bone folders, awls, needles and thread, wax, book board, text paper, cover paper, PVA, adhesive brushes.  Ahhhhh.

Here are all the photos I could locate of subsequent books, in no particular order.  Which is your favorite?  Is bookbinding a skill that you'd like to learn?

Mexican embroidery inspired wedding guestbook
Nepal journal
Christmas ornament book
Spectrum art journal
Japanese stab binding
Italy Coptic journal
Birthday notebook
Hunter's Words of Wisdom journal
Genealogy Coptic journal
Advice for the Newlyweds Coptic book
Gavin's Words of Wisdom journal
Botanica longstitch journal
Frequent concept book
Metal Heart concept book
Rochester wedding guestbook
Celebrate birthday guestbook



Well, would you look at that?  This happens to be my 100th post!  I've decided to return to blogging (some thanks to the encouragement of my husband) now that my daughter, Quinn, is 1 and I have regained some of my time to use as I wish  Have you noticed that maintaining a blog necessitates having enough free time to have ideas, follow through with them, and then write about it? 

This'll continue to be a hodgepodge mix of observation, art, food, and experience and hopefully a good motivator to keep me on track collecting new creative projects, recipes, contests, media, and more - to share with you.

A comfortable, organized environment with plenty of supplies is key if I want to get anything done, so I spent some time yesterday getting things in order and discovering items that had been tucked away and nearly forgotten.  A ton of art paper that I'd rolled up in heavy duty cardboard tubes (stored in the back of the closet) now live in a clear rolling paper tub under the bed.  I was pleased to find a variety of brand new sheets that will make great book covers.  (Though my tastes have apparently changed a bit.)

Our craft room (i.e. our walk in closet that still needs to function as a closet) is overrun with my supplies, but I managed to clear some more room and make everything more accessible.  Those tubs need some labels!

I also took some time to reorganize the small bookcase I use for all our art, craft, and design books.  An unfortunate Christmas day incident resulted in Christmas tree water pouring onto some of them, but I managed to salvage them all with fairly minimal water damage.

Here are some of my favorite titles (click to view on Powells.com):

So what's in store this year?  Hopefully lots of book making and paper craft, refurbished furniture (?!), photography, typography, crock pot recipes as well as those that take me 4 hours to make, prizes, outings, craft nights, vacations, and everything in between.  

Thanks for sticking with me!



As the weeks wind down and D(elivery)-day approaches, I'm trying to keep up with increased work responsibilities while also enjoying the last remnants of my pre-child social life.  Last week held two nights in a row of rowdy concert-going.  We caught Foals at Doug Fir on Thursday night along with my coworkers Nikki and Emily, and Jesse's friend, Danny.  Surprisingly enough, I was deemed DD for the night, but still managed to have a good time despite my pregnant sobriety.  At one point, both Jesse and Danny each brought me a soda.  I felt like a princess.  Other highlights included seeing the singer from Spoon in the crowd and then witnessing a dressed-to-the-nines hipster chick falling off a couch she was trying to climb over (the 4" heels didn't help).

The next night we hit up the grand opening of a new location of Dr. Marten's on Burnside.  The Builders and the Butchers were playing (odd scenario) and free food and beer were offered.  The beer ended up consisting of 2 oz. samples in tiny plastic cups and the "food," if you can call it that, was a platter of crustless watercress sandwiches.  Bite size.  The place was packed, as you can see below.  Certainly provided for interesting people watching.  (See if you can spot the band.)

Toward the end of the show Emily (what a trooper!) joined us with her three friends, Erin, James, and Jaime.  We determined that more food was in order, so we set out into the streets of downtown on foot.  I had mapped out various food carts that were supposed to be open, but that was a bust.  Instead, we found ourselves at Mother's, dining on decadent Chanterelle mac & cheese and laughing up a storm about performing test procedures on willing (read: paid) volunteers in nursing school.  Scary stuff, I tell you.  I remarked that the evening felt like the "olden days" - those in which Portland would draw us in for hours and we'd aimlessly wander the dark, curious streets.  It was a good night, particularly with the last minute addition of Voodoo Doughnuts just before the rain started to fall.

Other than that I've been preparing for a Halloween bake sale I organized at work, which is to occur this Friday.  The event will benefit two non-profit organizations associated with my employer.  I've never organized anything like this before, but it's been a worthwhile experience.  I can't wait to see what my volunteer bakers will come up with!  I'm still trying to finalize what I'll be making in my home kitchen - likely bags of fudge and jars of homemade granola.  I'll do my best to complete my preparation in an organized, photo-ready fashion, camera in hand.

Here are some miscellaneous photographs in the meantime.

Oliver's green Halloween glare

This is where we live - isn't it beautiful? 
Our resident Red-Tailed Hawk is perched at the top of the tallest tree. 
We love him.

And lastly, a belly progression.  I'm sitting at 33 weeks now and am even bigger than the last picture here.  More to come later, I'm sure.


craft night

Before I knew it, it was Saturday and my first craft night was mere hours away. I kicked my cleaning into high gear and got our apartment into great shape. Having a few people over is always excellent motivation to make your place fully presentable!

I had been gathering crafting supplies for a couple weeks, so I set out arranging everything on our dinner table. Each guest was to select a square of fabric and a contrasting color of thread. They also got a 5” embroidery hoop, a couple crewel needles, and a set of stitch instructions. I set out several of the embroidery books I got from the library as additional reference/inspiration material.

I had asked everyone to bring a dish to share and we had quite an array of delicious snacks! I can’t believe I didn’t get a picture of our buffet. We had bean dip, hummus and pita, chips with salsa and guacamole, caprese skewers, crackers and baguette with cheese and homemade hot pepper-peach jam, and caramel apples. Nearly all the non-pregnant people enjoyed wine while the rest of us stuck to fruit juice. My guests were even kind enough to leave me leftovers since our fridge was utterly empty!

After we dined, I had everyone practice some basic stitches on their piece of scrap fabric. Basic stitches like the backstitch, stem stitch, and split stitch are incredibly useful and take just a little practice to get perfect. After the ladies had gained some confidence in their stitching skills, we got to work transferring simple images onto the items they had brought (cloth napkins, dish towels, baby shirts, etc.). We spent the rest of the time working on those projects and chatting.

I have a tendency to be awfully anti-social, but it was wonderful to have such a great group of women over for the evening! I should really do this more often.

That evening I finally got the chance to bestow upon my friend April the handbound book I’d made for her eons ago for a giveaway on this blog. I still owe several more people books as well, but I figured I may as well get started on the delivery. I made April a blue robot-themed book in which to write down her son Hunter’s funny comments. I wish I had done a better job doing this with Chloe, who continues to make Jesse and I laugh with hysterical, out-of-nowhere quips.

After transferring Quinn’s big owl embroidery project onto fabric during the week, I finally began stitching on Saturday evening. So far I’ve only finished two letters of Quinn’s name (which involved outlining in backstitch and some filling in with satin stitch) and I can tell that this project is going to take forrrrevvvvver. It’s a fun challenge though, and one that will definitely strengthen my embroidery skills. I’ll post periodic updates of that piece once I get an initial portion finished.