February 2020: Cakes, houseplants, and zippers

It has been not that cold, for February. Like most people I know, I’m torn between enjoying the mild weather and feeling anxiety/dread about climate change. Sometimes I get “__ years ago today” photos, and compared to past winters, we’ve had barely any snow.

Anyway, it’s about time for the monthly wrap-up (see January wrap-up here).

Dog curled up on couch, nose buried in blanketDog: Either asleep, licking her back foot to the point of swelling, or peeing on the rug. Cannot satisfactorily scratch own ears. Grade: C-. Trying CBD oil to ease anxiety/inflammation. Cannot tell if it is working yet, as she is…asleep.

Plants: Garlic is coming up outside, and I think I see a few daffodil shoots as well! Inside, the  succulents I divided last month are thriving. The maidenhair fern is hanging in there. The Norfolk Island Pine feels crispy and probably needs higher humidity, so I’m going to put it on a pebble tray with water. I visited the garden center again and came home with a new air plant, another English ivy (thriving), a polka dot plant, another African violet, and a Prince of Orange philodendron that doesn’t look at all like the one I already have, but according to the label it is. Their colors can shift, so we’ll see what happens.

Clockwise from top left: Philodendron, African violet, new growth on old jade plant, divided succulents.

Kitchen: I swear I make things other than cake and cookies in the kitchen, but I guess I don’t take pictures of those things. This month we made two birthday cakes: one family recipe (chocolate, with chocolate frosting), and one from the Great British Baking Show Amazing Cakes book (Alice’s chocolate hazelnut pear with maple frosting). We also made cupcakes for a little Valentine’s Day party (America’s Test Kitchen cupcake recipe, Alice’s frosting recipe), and Swedish Visiting Cake (Dorie Greenspan’s recipe) for a friend who had a baby. For brunches with friends, we made baked French toast/bread pudding, oatmeal scones with dried apricot, crispy potatoes (see recipe below), and turkey bacon.

Crispy potatoes: Peel and dice 1-2 russet potatoes. Boil them in salted water for about 3 minutes, then drain. Tip the potatoes into a cast iron pan, preheated with olive oil over medium heat. Add cumin, paprika, salt, and pepper, and turn the potatoes every now at then until they’re crispy.

Arts & crafts: Designed and sewed one kid-size dress! We picked out the fabric together, and I based the design on a dress she is about to outgrow. (Note to self: next time, find a pattern.) But I’m still pretty pleased with how it turned out, and she wears it a lot!

Zipper pouches: Made three more zipper pouches for friends for Valentine’s Day.

Fountain pen: I borrowed a co-worker’s fountain pen for a few days, which inspired me to get mine in good working order again. I flushed out the old ink (over the course of four hours), and put in a cartridge instead of using the refillable chamber. It’s been working well (and not leaking!) since.

Mod Podge vase: Took a pair of plain clear glass vases and used Mod Podge and tissue paper to give them a new look. They work well for flowers or for lights.

Next: This skirt (with pockets, of course), made with a couple yards of purple and white fabric I found at Make and Mend.

Writing: Feedback from beta readers was positive overall, with plenty of valuable questions and suggestions. I’m so lucky to have friends who are good readers who are generous with their time and expertise. I’m making one more round of edits before querying agents and entering the SCBWI contest.

Up next, the new edition of What We’ve Read So Far. Stay tuned!


One thought on “February 2020: Cakes, houseplants, and zippers

  1. Pocketsssssss. The baked goods section made my mouth water a bit but the potatoes also sound delish, thanks for sharing! I’m finishing up a family photo-weeding project and hoping that my weeding will mean more room for my sewing machine when I’m done.


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