Who do you think you are?

30-something mother, wife, lawyer, writer, design junkie, craftaholic, cook

likes: clever tools, snazzy colors, working for justice, kid wrangling, Meyer lemons

dislikes: inefficiency, civil discovery, most shades of purple, Tori Amos

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Tuesday
Dec072010

Aargh Humbug!

Little did I know when I planned my little boy's 4th pirate birthday party that I was ushering in what has become a full-blown pirate obsession. In the last six months, he has devoured every single pirate book our library has to offer. He has become distressingly well-versed in the weaponry of 17th century swashbucklers. After he broke his leg this fall, his only consolation was that he would be more convincing as Long John Silver.

Truly, at this point I feel like I live in a pirate ship. So it's no surprise that as I was doodling last week, I started drawing a holiday pirate snowman. You know, Christmas and pirates, a match made in heaven. And to set my little doodle off, I put it on a stocking shape. Big mistake. Because at exactly that moment, my son looked over my shoulder and said, "Mommy! You're making me a new pirate snowman stocking! I love it!" Uhhhh. Hm.

How could I say no? So, after enlisting the help of my personal Craft Fairy Godfriend (buy her awesome, recycled holiday ornaments here!), I think I am going to tackle this guy in wool felt. My husband is afraid. Very (justifiably) afraid.

In the meantime, while exhibiting my peerless fabric-cutting-avoidance-skills, I thought I'd spread the wealth— er, booty—in a little holiday printable: giftcards!

You can download the file here. There are two versions of the cards, which print 8-up to a page and have cut lines clearly marked. Print on heavy card stock, or use Avery pre-cut card sheets (look for products 5881, 8373, 8869) to avoid cutting altogether (my fave!).

As always, you can use this template as much as you like for personal, non-commercial use.

Oh, and if you like these printables, how about keep my poor husband in your thoughts as I undertake this and other absurd last-minute sewing projects in the coming weeks. It could get ugly in here.

Sunday
Nov212010

Up periscope: Giving Thanks (AND a free font!)

I made a font! Read about it, and download it here!

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Oct162010

Accepting Reality: Fall Pumpkin Soup


© 2010 Cameron Blazer // Cottage Industrialist
I make no secret of my dislike for winter. I dislike cold weather. I dislike short days. And while October's arrival signals the coming cold and darkness, it is one of the most beautiful times of year in Charleston. The tide is never higher than in the first few weeks of fall, and the slanted light bounces amidst the marshes and the swollen creeks in a way that summer's saturated sunshine simply can't match. 

This week, while my students enjoyed fall break, and while I basked in a rare moment of autumnal positivity, I took advantage of the extra evening at home by inviting my in-laws over and making dinner. (Yes. If relaxation had been a subject in college, I would surely have failed. So be it.)

As is typical, my initial impulse—honey, invite your parents over...don't worry, i'll keep it simple...pasta and a salad—gave way to more elaborate plans.* I was overcome by an urge to overcome my hostility to fall, to honor October's bounty, to embrace the season. The menu came together organically. But it was anchored in the first course: pumpkin soup. (Oh, you can call it a bisque if you need that level of fanciness. But everybody knows it's soup.) Not too sweet. Rich, but not ridiculous.

This soup is dead easy. It could be a weeknight main course if you served it in nice, heavy mugs. I chose, instead, to gussy it up with some simple-but-seemingly-fancy-garnishes that made it feel very luxurious as a first course.

I am still nonplussed, at best, by the changing angle of the sun and the evershortening days. But if I can remember to keep this recipe at the ready, I should be able to make it through October and November none the worse for wear. I hope you will, too.

Clean Plate Club © 2010 Cameron Blazer // Cottage IndustrialistFall Pumpkin Soup

(serves 4-6)

Ingredients

28 oz. pumpkin purée**
1 medium shallot, finely grated***
2-3 c. vegetable broth****
2 T honey
1 T ginger
1 t cinnamon
1 t cardamom
1/2 t nutmeg
salt and pepper
1/2 pt heavy cream 

Garnish:
crème fraîche, to taste
pumpkin oil, to taste
roasted pumpkin seeds, finely chopped 

Preparation:

  1. In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, combine pumpkin, grated shallot, and broth over medium heat, whisking to thoroughly blend.
  2. Add spices, honey, and salt and pepper; stir to blend, continuing to cook until mixture begins to simmer.
  3. Reduce heat to low, and add cream.
  4. Serve in warm bowls, garnishing with a dollop of crème fraîche and a very small amount of pumpkin oil and pumpkin seeds.

Alternate preparation: Replace spices listed above with 2T curry powder. Replace cream with coconut milk. Garnish with fresh chopped coriander or thai basil.

* Let us not speak of the three flavors of gelato. Nor of the sorbet. Each of which was consumed. (I am ashamed.) LET US NOT SPEAK OF THEM. (Except to say this: vanilla gelato + blood orange sorbet = the sexiest take on a creamsicle ever. EVER.)

** I used an organic, canned variety (not pumpkin pie filling!), but if you have fresh roasted pumpkin, by all means, use it.

*** I use my microplane grater to grate the shallot directly into the pot. It saves time and keeps the shallot flavor bright without being overpowering.

**** You can use water, but, in that case, you should also grate a small carrot and a stalk of celery into the purée for sweetness and depth.

 

Monday
Oct112010

DIY expandable file from recycled cardboard & fabric scraps



© 2010 Cameron Blazer // Cottage Industrialist

Starting a fabric business—even an eco-friendly one—results in a LOT of fabric. Fabric that, sadly, I rarely have time to sew with. Recently, though, I came up with a way to use up small bits of fabric and cardboard packaging that can be done in a little more than an hour. And it's useful, to boot!

Who doesn't love office supplies? And among office supplies, who doesn't rank the expandable file highly? And at the same time, who among us could not use a little help keeping our bags or cars a wee bit tidier. Well, while the problem of my dirty car will take a solution greater than the strength of 1000 expandable files, I think this wee file could do the trick on wrangling the errant receipts and jotted notes that litter my bag.

 

Continue reading for the full tutorial...

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Oct092010

Nobody Expects the Spanish Inquisition

We interrupt this extended absence for an important message:

Remember a month or so ago? When I defiantly pledged allegiance to myself? When I voted myself into office as president of my own life? Yes.

Well. Do you ever feel like the universe is laughing at you?

As in, "Oh, really, Cameron? You want to be the president of your own life? That's great! Hope you've got your FEMA deal all set up because we're about to go all natural disaster on your butt."

What happened next is all kind of a blur.

I broke the site. I fixed the site. My son broke his leg. On a couch. Two days after we paid hundreds of dollars to register him for soccer and dance lessons.  He missed a week of school for which we'd already paid. My students turned in their first papers. I missed three days of work. I graded all of the papers. I returned to work to 31 unheard voicemails. I got featured on Design*Sponge (woohoo!). I prepped for two jury trials. I learned that my rural post office does not share my daytime urgency about actually sending packages (they close daily between 11 and 2:30). I filled a ton of orders. My two jury trials resolved (woohoo, woohoo!). I met with every one of my students one-on-one between work and class. My husband opened a new play for which he was still learning lines at 5PM that Friday.

As my husband said, the last two weeks have been like a joke. Without the funny.

Things have finally settled down—definitely not back to normal, but totally do-able. Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition. But we survived.

And now we're moving into the holiday season, which is, historically, my most creative time of the year. Later today I'll be bringing you a nifty (if I do say so) tutorial.

Although my approval ratings definitely slipped over the last few weeks, I'm committed to making the most of my time in office. Thank you for your support.