Archive for November, 2008

They’re Cousins, Identical Cousins . . .

November 28, 2008

The Schmenkman Girls’ iPhones were together for a nice chat last evening.  They were thrilled to have a break from all the normal poking and jabbing they endure while The Mrs. Schmenkmans jabber long distance.

iphone-cousinsThey were also very happy not to be smeared with delicious Ethiopian food, yummy cheese spread, or chocolate-eating fingers.

(Mine’s the one with the fake English accent, by the way.)


Project Dream Holiday . . .

November 26, 2008

Sound baking advice for the Thanksgiving weekend:


I’ve been hoarding these for such a holiday:  

project-runwayWhich, as you can tell from their still-encased-in-shrink-wrap condition, has yet to happen.  And isn’t likely to anytime soon.  That’s right, I have never seen this show.  Never-ever-never!  What is wrong with me?!  I would at least like to have season 1 under my belt before I buy any of Jay McCarroll’s fabrics!  

I should just be thankful that I’m too busy to sit still long enough to watch TV.  That’s something to proclaim around the family table–with or without a martini in hand!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyguys!

How’s My Ganache, Vianne?

November 24, 2008

If the North Wind blew Vianne Rocher, Anouk and Pantoufle into my little French Provincial town, I would welcome them with open arms, beg to be Vianne’s apprentice in her magical chocolaterie,  and hope that she had size 10 feet so I could borrow her red shoes!


Well, with or without Vianne’s help, it’s high time I learned how to make my own truffles!   I’ve been mulling the idea over for a long time and it always boils down (heh!) to the fact that I fear tempering.  All those lovely, perfect truffles in the world and I was afraid that I just couldn’t achieve that glistening, glossy glow.

And then I discovered the hottest thing in truffles on the West Coast (I swear!  It always takes years for trends to reach The Midwest!) I know, I know.  The French have been doing it this way for centuries.  That doesn’t change the fact that I have had the Platonic form of the perfect truffle in my head blocking my ability to actually pursue making them myself.


Five Star Truffles--I talked him into selling me a staff t-shirt!


XOX Truffles on Columbus in North Beach


XOX truffles and their apprentice’s newly opened shop, 5 Star Truffles and Coffee. The truffles are phenomenal!  Oddly shaped little hunks of bliss, coated in cocoa powder, cacao nibs, nuts and other yummies–and not a shine on the bunch!  The flavors are the best!  Red wine, Earl Grey, lemon, dark roast, and the list goes on–my kind of truffles.





So I’ve done my usual librarian-ly research and decided to experiment with Fran Bigelow’s basic truffle recipe.  And I was hoping to go buy some large hunks of my favorite Scharffen Berger chocolate from my local gourmet kitchen store, only to discover that the owner had recently changed his allegiances to Callebaut chocolate.  I trust his judgement and I’m impressed so far.  It’s delicious stuff!






truffles1My taste-tester baristas at Starbucks approve, the kids approve, my husband approves, but most importantly, I approve–and on Wednesday I’ll be taking some to The Other Mrs. Schmenkman to see if she likes them!  We Schmenkmans have quite the history with truffles.    

Now it’s time to make another batch and try some flavors.  Espresso, bergamot (Earl Grey), raspberry . . . . and if I can perfect a green tea or a lavender truffle, I’ll be a very happy little amateur chocolatiere!  

Just Had to Share . . .

November 22, 2008

I love being the driver of a vanload of kids–especially tween girls.  The conversations are hilarious.  Today I took seven kids to go see Bolt.  Here’s a little snippet from the ride home:

Kid 1:  They only got Miley Cyrus to be Penny’s voice so that more kids would go see it.  And they got an OLD MAN to play Bolt!  Can you believe that?!

Other Kids:  That was John Travolta

K1:  I know!  And he’s, like, 90 years old!

Other Kids:  No he’s not!  He was Danny in Grease!

K1:  Oooooh!  I love that movie.  But that is NOT the same guy.

Other Kids:  YES IT IS! [*All start singing “You’re the One That I Want” at the top of their lungs*]

She Likes it! She Really Likes it!

November 22, 2008

Yeay!  Ginkgo Wabi-Sabi made it to Jamie in Montana!

Ginkgo Wabi-Sabi

November 19, 2008

My Doll Quilt Swap is finished.  A few days late (Edit: Wait!  Where did I get the idea I had to have it out the door by the 15th of November?!  Yeay, me!  It’s EARLY!), but finished.  Whew!  Wahoooooo!

ginkgowabisabi21Working with an antique piece of linen is a bit outside my comfort zone, but I was inspired by my swap recipient’s love of working with vintage pieces.

ginkgowabisabi3I had originally envisioned embellishing the piece with vintage buttons or maybe some beads, but my visit to San Francisco last week really made me change my mind.  My husband and I made two separate trips to the Kinokuniya Book Store in The Japan Center, spending hours with (and several hundred dollars on!) the incredible art and design books and periodicals.  Joe bought a book on Wabi-Sabi, the Japanese aesthetic of beauty.  


The Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park was also inspirational, although I only found one ginkgo tree.  I was pleasantly surprised as I quilted the piece that it seemed to take on the appearance of a Zen rock garden.  And with that, I could go no further.  I think it’s definitely Wabi-Sabi, and it will be shipped off to Montana later today!

Tollipop Props

November 17, 2008

Everybody’s in such a generous mood lately!  Meanwhile, I’m hunkered down, jealously guarding my time and wondering how I can get all of my Christmas presents done!  


Tollipop always makes me smile.  And she’s got a give-away going on, so hop on over and take a look!  Clementine is obviously a sweetie, but I’m pretty sure that I could get her to shout and dance in my library!

Not Just 1, but 3!

November 16, 2008

Twitter it, blog it, sidebar it, Facebook it, YouTube it!  Dana has three gorgeous quilts to give away over at Old Red Barn Co.


No more time to chat!  Gotta go make a video!

DIY Hardware Heaven!

November 15, 2008

Just one more report from the Indiana Walking Club’s Serendipitous Shopping Division.  Oh, the things I miss by living in a small town!  We traipsed up and down all those San Francisco hills (okay, it was more like hauling ass than traipsing), always looking out for interesting places to stop, shop, and eat.  


I don’t care what the place is selling–if it looks like this, I’m going in!  This time, the payoff was perfect for me.  Welcome to Bauerware Designer Hardware store!


Oh, the handles, the knobs, the numbers, the bars–the overwhelming beauty of it all!

I immediately fell in love with these from Soko Studio:  


A couple of these people will soon be hanging around my kitchen with me.

And everything by Rosalie Sherman–especially her animal hooks and her doorbell hardware:

rosalieshermanI’m going to have that bird on my doorbell!  Maybe it will make solicitors think twice about who they’re bothering!  

Again, Bauerware’s website is still under development (aaaarrrrrgggghhhhh!!!  I want to browse some more!!) But I bought some handles and took names and numbers of all of the things which will eventually make their way into my kitchen renovation.  Amazing what little pieces of hardware will do to motivate me!

Rainy Day Stitching

November 14, 2008

ginkgo1The Doll Quilt Swap quilt is coming along.  I’m running up against the deadline, but figure I’ll be forgiven.  I had a honeymoon to attend to!

The appliques are tracings from leaves I have collected along a certain walking route near my home.  I’ve been enchanted by ginkgos ever since my time at Indiana University.  They used to line the walkway behind the main library–until somebody realized that planting all female trees probably wasn’t such a good idea.  If you’ve ever smelled the fruit of this otherwise exotic and beautiful tree, you know what I mean.   Those stinkgo vomit trees were finally cut down.   There are, however, some amazingly huge ginkgos on the Purdue campus.  One of them is at least 80 years old.  I never knew they grew that big!  The only Frank Lloyd Wright house here in town, Samara, also has some lovely ginkgo trees–as well as sculptural elements which mimic the branch structure.

ginkgo21About halfway through the applique process, Betty (my Bernina 1230) hiccoughed and decided that she was just too tense.  I checked.  I turned her off.  I turned her on.  I rethreaded.  I cleaned.  I oiled.  I massaged the tension out of her up and down the scale.  Just when I was about to give up, she giggled and was fine.  Little practical joker!  That’s what I get for leaving her alone for such a long time.

Onward to quilting and embellishing!