Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Moving on up

Hello, all! I have started a new blog, The How-To Hostess, and will no longer be posting here at Modern Renaissance. I hope you will come visit the shiny new blog for lots of party-riffic ideas, crafts, and recipes, though!

Hugs - Stephanie

Friday, July 9, 2010

Fri-DIY Pickling


Something a little different for this Fri-DIY... how do you feel about pickles? Me - I love them. I have yet to meet a pickle that I did not enjoy, and that includes eggs and pigs feet. I am a self-professed vinegar junkie so pickling is right up my alley.


When you add the magic of preserving in a boiling-water bath, the reward of shelf-stable homemade pickles all year entices me to make a batch nearly every weekend all summer long. I am a self-taught pickler, I alas did not have the guidance of a mom or grandma to raise me in the pickling tradition. However, the process is not difficult and can be mastered easily as long as you can chop some vegetables and follow instructions.

pickling guide_Page_1

I taught a class a few weeks ago about how to make simple vegetable pickles and wrote out an instruction pamphlet for everyone. I've posted the pages up on Flickr so you can download them and get to pickling, too! There are 2 recipes, one for sweet refrigerator pickles and one for sour shelf-stable pickles. If you try one out and get stuck, just drop me an email and I'll be glad to help you out.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

I like you - Tomatoes

tomatoes squaredcircle, originally uploaded by Muffet.

It's summer and the living is easy. Especially if you are a tomato lover. That sounds like a strange title, but I am a born and raised tomato lover and I am not ashamed. I am also a tomato snob. I won't eat one unless I can look in the eyes of the person who grew it. For me, that's my 'Mater Man' (that's his name, it's legit, he has a hat with it cross-stitched!) at my local farmer's market, my grandfather, and my friend Megan. That means I only eat them when they are in season, but I certainly make the most of that short time. My two most all-time favorite ways to eat tomatoes are fresh slices of perfectly ride tomato on wheat toast with Duke's mayo or green tomatoes dusted with cornmeal and fried in bacon fat. Summertime food heaven!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Fri-DIY - Tissue Paper Flowers

Tissue Paper Flowers

I am in the midst of planning an engagement party for some very dear friends. As such, I have been happily sequestered in my craft room for many hours working on decorations, invitations, and plans in general. These are some flowers I created that will be gracing the entry walls en masse the evening of the party.

The flowers are super quick to make, about 5 minutes per flower, and don't require any special crafting tools. What you do need is:

Tissue paper in the color of your choice
Hot glue gun

Tissue Paper Flowers

Cut out 6 inch circles from the tissue, scalloping the edges slightly as you cut. You will need 11 circles per flower.

Tissue Paper Flowers

Once you've got a nice stack, crumple them all up and gently smooth back out. This step is important so the flowers have some nice volume and texture and don't end up looking flat.

Tissue Paper Flowers

Heat up the hot glue gun. Lay one circle flat on your work space. Fold another circle in half, then in half again to make a wedge shape. Put a dab of hot glue at the point end of the wedge and glue to the flat circle. Repeat with 3 more circles to make the first layer.

Then do it again with 4 more circles but glue so they overlap the spaces between the wedges of the first layer.

Finally, take 2 more circles. Fold each in half, add a dab of glue at the middle of the fold and glue each to the flower. All done!

Tissue Paper Flowers

Along with party wall decorations, I have also used these to finish off a wrapped gift and as napkin holders for parties. I am sure you can come up with many more uses for them, too!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

I like you - Sparklers

With the 4th of July right around the corner, I like most everything red, white, and blue. Sparklers hold a special place in my heart, though, pulling me back to the days of bare feet, and cool grass, and mosquito bites while running with a sparkly light through the front yard. I will be in a fire-works friendly state for the 4th this year, so I am looking forward to reliving part of my childhood via fiery lit sticks.

However, if you find yourself in an anti-sparkler state or town, consider trying one of the crafts below to get your sparkler fix. Best part is, no chance of burnt fingers!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Meatless Monday - Zucchini Caponata

Zucchini Caponata with poached eggs

There's something about summer that makes eating meat-free seem effortless. With so much gorgeous fresh produce available, I really don't even think about meat, until the husband starts to revolt. So get thee to your local farmer's market and worship at the altar of local fruits and vegetables.

I developed this recipe to use up some pretty zucchini I picked up at our farmer's market. A caponata is traditionally made with eggplant, but I think the other ingredients equally compliment fresh dark green zucchini. We topped a piece of toast with the caponata and then capped it all with a poached egg (also from the farmer's market). The caponata would also be delicious tossed with hot pasta or spread on toasted baguette slices and topped with some melted mozzarella.

1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 large zucchini, cut into a 1/4" dice
1/2 sweet onion, cut into a 1/4" dice
2 Tablespoons chopped sun dried tomatoes
1 garlic clove, minced
1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano and thyme
1 teaspoons chopped capers

Heat oil over medium high heat in a saute pan. Add onion and zucchini and saute until nicely browned, 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the chopped sun dried tomatoes and garlic, stir to combine. Lower heat to medium low and cook 1 minute. Add vinegar, stirring well, and cook 1 minute. Add herbs and capers, stir to incorporate and serve immediately.

Friday, June 25, 2010

FriDIY - Home Spruce Ups

This week's FriDIY features a few projects to spruce up things around the house. Like the cool lampshade above. Most home improvement stores sell hanging lamp kits (Ikea, too) and the rest of the materials are readily available and inexpensive. I'd love to see a bunch of these in coordinating colors hung from a portico for an outdoor party.

I love the curly ribbon wreath above. The directions are super easy to follow and I especially enjoy the summer-ready colors she chose. If I saw a wreath like this on a front door, I would just know I was going to have a good time in that house!

Finally, this project is one that would make the husband roll his eyes at me. He wouldn't be able to understand putting time and effort into making perfectly sized boxes. But I do, and luckily Sharilyn at lovelydesign does, too!