Road trip: Sunflower Caffe

We were feeling really cooped up and it was such a beautiful day on Sunday, so we decided to drive up to Sonoma for dinner. For some reason traffic was backed up on our usual route so we ended up taking a different road through the pastoral hills of those happy California dairy cows and assorted vineyards.

Our destination was the Sunflower Caffe, a cute coffee shop/wine bar/restaurant on the square downtown. We saw it on an episode of “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives” and it looked really good.

It was just the cutest place, with a courtyard in back complete with gurgling fountain, string lights, and flowers.

Of course a sunflower-themed restaurant is always fun for a Kansas girl.

We got two huge glasses of wine and just relaxed.

Maybe someday we’ll have to join the snobby-ass wine club.

For dinner we split a lamb burger and tried a couple of appetizers.

These cheese-stuffed peppers with pistachios were amazing. I may have to try to recreate these sometime.

Sonoma is just the cutest town.

I think we have this fantasy of living in wine country someday and getting away from all the craziness of city life. When you consider it’s only like 45 minutes away, it doesn’t seem like such a wild idea.

Loving: Le Parfait jars

I’ve gotten kind of obsessed lately with organizing our pantry. We have so many random dry beans and flours and other assorted ingredients, and I’d like to see all the ones we use regularly sorted into some kind of system. I bought a bunch of cute red-lidded jars from World Market, but then I saw these Le Parfait jars at our awesome Ace Hardware and I just had to buy some.

These are two of the largest jars, but they have them in all shapes and sizes down to the littlest jelly jars. I’ve seen Weck canning jars all over design blogs lately, but I don’t want to have to keep track of the little metal clips. And I think the Le Parfait jars are much cooler looking with their scripty font.

Now that I am banned from buying any more bowls, I think I am definitely developing a glass jar habit.

My favorite passage from ‘On the Road’

It was about food, so of course it spoke to me.

And oh, that pan-fried chow mein flavored air that blew into my room from Chinatown, vying with the spaghetti sauces of North Beach, the soft-shell crab of Fisherman’s Wharf — nay, the ribs of Fillmore turning on spits! Throw in the Market Street chili beans, redhot, and french-fried potatoes of the Embarcadero wino night, and steamed clams from Sausalito across the bay, and that’s my ah-dream of San Francisco. Add fog, hunger-making raw fog, and the throb of neons in the soft night, the clack of high-heeled beauties, white doves in a Chinese grocery window…

Vegan chocolate cupcakes with cocoa ganache

After this tumultuous week of eating, I decided I wanted a baked good that would satisfy my sweet tooth without sending me into a sugar coma. I wanted to use the oat flour I bought a while back — while it’s not labeled gluten-free, it’s whole grain and would at least reduce the load on my gluten-heavy diet.

I googled around to find a vegan chocolate cake recipe that sounded like it would make a good cupcake, and then adjusted it a bit and came up with this:

Vegan chocolate cupcakes
makes 10 cupcakes

1 1/2 cups oat flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup agave nectar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
1 cup water

Cocoa ganache frosting

1/2 cup cocoa powder (use raw cacao powder for an ultra-rich frosting)
1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
1/4 cup agave nectar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
dash of salt

Preheat your oven to 350. Mix up the dry ingredients in one bowl and the wet ingredients in another. Slowly mix the wet ingredients into the dry until combined. The batter will be very thin. Fill your paper cups more carefully than I did!

Bake for 45 minutes. While the cupcakes are baking, mix up the ingredients for the frosting. Though the ganache is pretty soft, you want to leave it at room temperature until the cupcakes are cool and ready to frost. It becomes so thick it’s unspreadable when refrigerated.

The cupcakes are definitely more crumbly than a typical cupcake, but I thought they came out pretty well overall. Certainly the closest you’ll come to a healthy cupcake!

Starting over with food

I think I got a little cosmic intervention on my eating habits this week. The last few weeks I have been either traveling or preoccupied with craft fair stuff, and it’s put me off my usual meal planning, cooking, and exercise routines. We were eating out a lot. Then I got really sick.

I thought I had food poisoning because it was just the kind of violent sickness people describe. Disgusting. Then I got achy and feverish and couldn’t sleep. Everything hurt. Yesterday I thought I was going to just pop out of bed and be better, but I was really weak and had a caffeine headache from no coffee for 3 days.

Finally, I am better today. And of course now Mike is sick. I think it must be a virus or something I gave to him rather than food poisoning. Which is a huge relief because I am so tired of trying to figure out what it was that I ate. Now I am blaming all the kids at Harry Potter on Saturday night!

So my first meal back was applesauce. I’m slowly progressing past soup and saltines to real food. It actually feels kind of good to be starting over. Although I never, ever want to have that kind of forced cleansing again. Ever. I’m thinking about what I can make that will be good to my body. I feel hungry for the first time since Sunday.

Any suggestions for easy-on-the-stomach meals?

Pouf giveaway!

Exciting news today — I am giving a away a small knit pouf to a reader of the lovely Green Eyed Monster blog. Details here. The blog features all kinds of “pretty, indie things” and does giveaways all the time, so I am definitely happy to support it!

To enter the giveaway for a pouf in your choice of color, comment on the blog. You get extra entries for tweets and Facebook mentions.


Charlotte really wants you to have a pouf.

Renegade recap

First, I’ll just say that the Renegade Craft Fair was by far the most well-organized show I’ve ever been a part of. It should be, considering it is 10 times the price of every other show I’ve done, but you can imagine that pulling together such a big event with hundreds of vendors would make for some logistical challenges. But everything was smooth sailing — plenty of information, a very cohesive group of makers, bathrooms with no lines, yummy food that never ran out, etc. etc.

I wish I had more photos to share, but by the time everyone is set up, the crowd makes it hard to take a lot of pictures. And it was quite a crowd!

Here’s what my booth looked like.

I redid the letters on my sign so they would look a little more like the font I use, but they ended up a little too big. I didn’t have time to fix them, so I had to leave them as-is. Oh well…

The little owls were very popular. I stayed up until 1:30 Friday night finishing them, and I’m glad I did because I sold more of them than anything else by far.

I didn’t become rich off of this show, but it really helped me decide where I am going to take my shop from now on. The giant pouf (which I almost didn’t bring because I was having trouble fitting it in my car), was a huge hit. I think half the people there touched it, sat on it, or otherwise marveled at it. I had several shop owners and interior designers ask about it (!!!). It’s obvious that people are enticed by the large-scale knitting. And though I am having some issues sourcing the materials, I am going to spend more time on it because I can see it has so much more potential.

I had to restrain myself from shopping too much because there was SO much good stuff from other vendors. I heard from some shoppers that the selection has really improved over the years.

I bought this yummy smelling soap from the folks at Clean Getaway Soap.

I learned they are from Denver, so I would encourage all my Colorado friends to check it out if they haven’t already.

Apparently I am the last person to realize that the next big animal to inspire the crafting world is the narwal. Mike had to convince me that yes, the narwal in fact is a real animal.


Narwal tee from Gnome Enterprises.

I am totally in love with everything from Rae Dunn, especially her salt and pepper cellars.

I was also quite smitten with the booth next to me, jfish designs. You know I have a thing for succulents, so I loved these curvy hanging planters.

I ended up trading a pouf for this cool organizer.

Not sure what I’m going to put in it yet. Maybe jewelry?

I learned that I want to do some things differently for future shows:

• Get some kind of dolly or rolling cart so I don’t have to carry everything, especially if I am by myself.
• Bring twice as many business cards as I think I’ll need. I completely ran out!
• Work on getting more vertical displays, possibly shelving.
• Streamline the look of my booth, which is kind of all over the place right now.
• Become wealthy so that I can buy everything from other vendors!

I am probably not going to do any more shows until it gets closer to fall just because it’s hard for me to sell knit goods in the summer, and I need some time to regroup. But I’m feeling as hopeful as I’ve felt in a long time that I can make this crafting thing into what I always wanted it to be. So, onward!

Renegade!

It’s finally here, my first big show at the Renegade Craft Fair in San Francisco. I’ll be there all weekend with all the same goodies I usually have, plus an appearance by the giant pouf!

Here are the details:

And check out the other vendors. I’m totally overwhelmed by all the talent here.

Corn and tomato salad

Strangely, it’s actually been feeling like summer around here. Though it’s been in the low 60s for months, the forecast calls for 80+ degree days over our Fourth of July weekend, and that to me calls for picnic foods.

I’ve been making a black bean/corn/avocado/tomato salad for a long time, but I was thinking I wanted something a little different. This idea from Chez Pim seemed perfect, so I played around with measurements a bit and came up with this.

Corn and tomato salad

3 cups cooked sweet corn (grilled, boiled, or even microwaved works)
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Basil or other fresh herbs to taste (I chopped up a few sprigs of thyme and a few basil leaves)

Combine the corn and tomatoes in a bowl. Whisk up the rest of the ingredients in a separate bowl. I ended up using about half of the vinaigrette and saving the rest for salads, but you can use as much as you want.

Serve with baked beans, deviled eggs, and a Nathan’s hot dog. Swing in hammock. Sip lemonade.

I am also excited to report that I spotted our first tomatoes yesterday!

The question now is whether or not they’ll have trouble ripening (that’s what I hear can be a problem). But with our forecast I think they’ll have plenty of heat and sun.

This little guy has taken up residence in the tomato.

I also finally gave up on my old basil plant, which conked completely, and got a new one, which seems to be thriving. Can’t have summer without basil.