Sunday, August 28, 2011

Iron Maiden

I've had a subscription MS Living since I was in my early 20's, which I know is not cool, but I've learned how to do grown up  things from the expert and it earned me the moniker "Martha Jr." Watch out, I'm coming for you lady. This month she has a spread on skillet meals.  I like the one pot idea and I love our perfectly seasoned cast iron skillet, which was found at the Alameda Flea Market. I decided to set my whole week up with recipes from this article and a few from our own kitchen.  We kicked it off last night with a deep dish pizza, but tonight has turned into a dinner that will unofficially celebrate the night before Jasper's first day of Kindergarten with some of his favorite things, I'll feature that skillet recipe below.

Sunday: Roast Pork with Carmelized Parsnips, Mashed Potatoes and Arugula Salad with cucumber, blueberries and pomegranate seeds.

Roast Pork with Carmelized Parsnips
(Adapted from MSL September 2011)
Coarsely ground salt and pepper
1 teaspoon whole fennel seeds
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
1 teaspoon coarsely chopped rosemary (plus one sprig)
1 boneless pork loin roast (2 1/2 lbs)tied with twine
1 1/2 lbs parsnips, peeled and cut into 3-by-1 inch pieces
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 425 degrees
Coarsely grind the first 4 ingredients in a mini chopper or grinder.
Rub spice mix over pork, add rosemary sprig under twine.
Transfer to cast iron skillet.
Roast pork for 20 minutes.
Toss parsnips in olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
Arrange parsnips around pork.
Roast for 20 minutes, then stir parnsips
Continue to roast until pork reaches 140 degrees, about 15 minutes.
Transfer to platter and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing.


Friday, August 26, 2011

Dress Shirt

This week I spent a little time thinking about my fall wardrobe.  I've been reading up on trends and evaluating what gets to stay and what gets to go in my closet.  I have an extensive collection of pretty work dresses from my former career as a bridal consultant, many of which I have no place to wear anymore, but I love them for their fit and pattern.  Vogue tells me the whole dress over pants thing is back, unfortunately I spent so many years shedding that 90's look that it's hard for me to imagine putting it back into practice, unless of course the dress is really mini.  

One of my favorite dresses to never be worn again is an ikat print in a heavy linen.  It had a tapered skirt so the whole dress over pants thing was out.  I decided that I would hem it into a shirt and give it a new lease on life. I pinned the shirt just below the pocket line, hemmed the bottom, sewed the pockets closed and trimmed them out. This would probably have been an inexpensive alteration if I'd taken it to a tailor, but doing it myself freed up my bucks for new boots, plus I think I'll like this dress over jeans a lot more.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Yoda Yoda Yoda

I've had a Star Wars kind of year.  Having made the choice to turn our house into Endor for an Ewok birthday party, I undertook the misguided task of designing and sewing 25 plush Ewok dolls, and a handful of light sabers that are now so beat up they look like limp noodles.  My best creation was the Yoda pillow that I made Jasper, I have to say that one was something (it's hard to make a pillow look like a 900 year old man). 

 "Truly Wonderful, the mind of a child is"

Today is Jasper's last day of preschool and the graduation theme is Star Wars, no weapons of course.  I offered to sew 30 Yoda headpieces for all the kids. If I had been more ambitious I would have made Leia buns for the ladies.  This is a super easy project, which could be done with a glue gun as well. 


1 1/2" plastic headband
3.5x 16.5" piece of felt for tube
6x3" flat bottom leaf shape for ears
Fold tube in half
Fold the flat bottom of the ears
Pin ears inside the tube fold at 4" from ends
Sew length with 1/4 seam allowance end to end
Thread in headband and hot glue ends closed

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

My Space

I used to have an office.  I had to give it up in order to house a child, so I guess it went to a good cause. I kept a desk in our living room for the past year and it caused a fair amount of design dithering, shifting art, moving furniture, hand wringing, hemming and hawing. It finally occurred to me what I was missing was having my own room, not a bedroom, I like to share that, but a Don Draper style office to retreat to (minus the creepy locked drawer). 

Bargain Basement

So,I took over our downstairs mudroom. I come down here every night for a little while to write, work, catch up. I have a place for my tear sheets and sharp scissors and most importantly, my prized glass desk lamp that had to be sequestered when that kid who stole my office started walking.  I make do. 

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Saturday Son

When I was working on Saturdays I used to get up and make pancakes for my little guy so that we could have some special time before I left for the day. It was our thing. Here's our family's Oatmeal Pancake recipe, best eaten outside in your jammies with a little Nick Drake.

Oma's Oatmeal Pancakes 

1 cup Greek yogurt 
1/2 cup milk 
2 eggs (beaten)
1 tbsp honey
1 1/4 cup quick oats
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
pinch of sea salt

Mix wet and dry ingredients, combine, measure out 1/4 cup onto a hot griddle.  We melt butter in maple syrup. Add bananas or berries for an extra treat.

Adapted from McCann's recipe

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Anthropologist

About ten years ago I walked into the San Francisco Anthropologie and looked up at a ray of fabric buttterflies stretching across their top floor ceiling.  Some short time later, I gathered the materials and made a smaller scale version for my apartment. Now their clothes and accessories are coveted by just about every girl I know, but my favorite thing about Anthropologie is the the ambiance, the way you can feel the warm scent from the burning candles, the day dreamy music, and the hand crafted art installations they call visual merchandising.  They sell all sorts of fancy and unattainable things, but the store is full of pieces constructed out of paper and wire and rope meant to feel that way. I have this smart and stylish friend named Valerie, who recently posted a link to a beautiful Rhodadendron chandelier from Anthropologie and it got me's been a while. 

Hey There, Cupcake

I picked up some white paper lanterns and tightly layered soft white cupcake papers around the surface using a hot glue gun. I later went around with decorative petit fours papers found at a store called Spun Sugar in Berkeley. They gave the first layer some dimension and made it look less like a party decoration. I think the overall look feels something more like anenomes. They would look beautiful with  a light dropped in them, for now they hang over my dining room table.


  • 100–125  white standard-sized paper cupcake liners
  • 100–125  vertically striped petit fours papers
  • (1) 18–20″ white paper lantern
  • hot glue gun
  • 1 Hemma Cord from IKEA (for lighting) ($3.99)

Monday, August 8, 2011

Hand Picked

About a month ago we took a day trip to do some berry picking. The plan was to get enough fruit to produce a stock of homemade jam. 


It was a windy drive down Hwy 1 with two impatient passengers, but once we arrived at the center of town and got out of the car time seemed to stop.  There's a fantastic general store with an attached cafe that opens onto an expansive lawn. It just so happened that day the lawn was also home to a 70's rock jam band; this was not lost on me.  We sat and ate our too big sandwiches(I may have had a glass of white wine)and enjoyed the scene before pushing off to the berry patches down the road.  The place we go to has both olallieberries and strawberries ripe for the picking. With a little instruction the kids were off, although my younger son spent the majority of our time there eating fruit off the plants. Four buckets and one very stained shirt later we'd had ourselves a day. Jam is in the works.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

I Scream, You Scream

I've owned an electric ice cream maker for about 7 years and I've never turned the thing on. The reason it sits idle is that when it comes to making ice cream, we prefer to get our hands dirty.  My always creative mother-in-law decided to have her guests make their own ice cream using coffee cans at a party she hosted and now it's a summer time staple for our family. 
Here's how we do it:

Kick the Can Ice Cream

You'll need two clean coffee cans with lids (one big enough to hold the other).


1 pint of half and half  
1/4 cup sugar
4 tsp pudding mix
1 1/2 cups rock salt
2 cups ice

  1. Mix together the first three ingredients.
  2. Place the ice cream mixture in the smaller coffee can and seal with the lid on tightly.
  3. Place the smaller can in the center of the larger can. Pour the ice and salt around the smaller can in layers.
  4. Seal the larger can with its lid tightly (we use duct tape) and roll it around on a the sidewalk for about a half hour. This seems like a long time, take turns, kids can roll on the ground between each other.
  5. Enjoy! You earned it.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Plan

When I considered the name of this blog* I thought about the fact that it meant a few things. To "make do" is to find a way to get by with what you have and to do that you sometimes need to be creative and sometimes you have to plan ahead.  It also sets the two categories of post "make" and "do". 

Cooking and Eating

Every week I sit down and plan out what we're going to eat. I should mention, this is coming from someone who has owned several unused day planners. It takes about 20 minutes. I focus on meals Monday-Friday and leave the weekend open for eating out or getting fancy steaks.  I use those 1950's style shopping lists and menu planners you find at stores like Paper Source; Target also has a line from Real Simple. I like them because they have categories for shopping that makes remembering peanut butter a whole lot easier, plus they have magnet backs and come in a variety of colors. The iphone has shopping apps, but I'm a pen and paper sentimentalist. We've been doing this for a few years and as a result we have very little waste, we rarely eat take out, our grocery bill is pretty consistent and we keep to a healthy plan. It could help someone who has a lot of late nights at work or kids practice schedules to juggle keep to the concept of eating a home cooked meal, maybe even at a table, maybe even together. It certainly saved us when I was working a lot and helped me lose weight after I had a baby. Anyway, I thought it might be a fun experiment to share my week's plan as a sort of "make" and "do" combo. In future posts I will include recipes, shopping lists and cooking tips.

*Make Do became Poppy Haus in January 2012

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A Haus of One's Own

The Playhaus
I wanted to make an outdoor play space for our kids.  We don't have a sprawling lawn, in fact our backyard is a eucalyptus grove, and hilly.  Inspired by the architecture of some of the houses around us in the canyon, I came up with the idea of a German style A-Frame. It needed to be water tight, and we needed to keep the wildlife out so I decided to make the roof out of green house corrugated sheets, alternating clear and opaque.  I had to dust off my math skills, and of course get some help constructing it from someone who knew how to build structures (Ben Jennings), but it turned out to be a 4 hour project and well worth the money $285 (comparable kits out there are upwards of $1000). When we thought about it, if you doubled it in size adults could actually sleep in it. We added a hanging chair to one of the adjacent trees, and have grand plans of putting an old playground slide into the hill and maybe even a covered sandbox. For now we have a space for the kids to hide, swing and do their thing.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

For Dani

It's pretty cliche that I tell my hair dresser things I won't tell my best friend, I know that.  On my most recent visit I confessed my near complete boredom with being "a mommy", yes I said it, and how I wish I could spend more time being creative, you know "like a job" (side note, I do have a creative job). She pretty much insisted that I write this.  I know I have to make a choice, put it out there or don't.  I've definitely resisted blogging in the past because I thought it was self indulgent or worse, braggy, or even worse, some sort of public therapy, but worst of all I suppose I'm afraid I'm too lazy to commit. In any case, this is about the things I make and do. 

First Post:

The Fake Out Camping Trip

So, My husband is out of town for a few days and I have both kids (I have two little boys) to amuse all day and night by myself.  It's summer, and we live up in the woods of a big city.  I'll admit I kind of planned this "Camping Trip" on the fly. It started with the tent...Jasper wanted to make another clean living room destroying fort. This would involve unfolding all of our sheets, rearranging furniture and inevitably dumping out every single toy we own inside it.  No thanks.  I suggested we get the tent out of the garage and set it up on the deck!  From there we decided to go "mountain biking" on our bike path and we had a spaghetti cook out before retiring to our tent for the night. Yes, I nixed the marshmallows, we didn't have any. Yes, I slept outside on a bouncy air mattress getting kicked by a 5 year old and woken up by a baby monitor all night, but it was kind of awesome and I'm about to go outside for night number two.  

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