Wednesday, October 08, 2008

mama don't live here no more

I'VE MOVED! If you are interested in reading new blog posts, go here: PenguinBot Blog.

I figured I should make a more prominent post stating that. =)

P.S. I've even been updating the blog fairly regularly! How exciting.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

It's here!

Hey. You there. CLICK HERE.

Lorne and I first started talking about a website where I made and sold things awhile back. The day after our wedding, to be exact. We were sitting in a bar in Victoria, drinking fancy drinks, and Lorne brought it up. Then I started making things, playing with designs, giving them to friends for birthdays and Christmases and such. Then I got some positive feedback, then more, and then I sold some to friends who wanted to give gifts to friends, then to their friends, to my internet friends. (Yes, I have internet friends. They're pretty awesome.) (I AM A NERD.)

Now there's a shop. My fabric stash and sewing table have taken over the dining room, I have a dresser full of yarn and knit bags, and a coat rack covered in totes. I'm so very excited about the shop. Lorne did an amazing job with it. Aside from being an awesome web designer, he is the best person ever.

We also want to thank Kyle and Grant for their input on the website design and name, and Colin for suggesting how Lorne build it, and Mike for all his hosting help, and everyone who has ever bought something from me and told me they liked it and encouraged me to do more. You guys rule.

Enough out of me. Go poke around the website.

Oh, one more thing - I'll be blogging there from now on, so update your bookmarks and RSS feeds to At some point we might migrate this blog over there, but not yet.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Small Tote Preview!

There will be a bunch of small totes available in the PenguinBot shop. Before our little monster was born, I went on a bit of a fabric buying binge and got excited about all the color combinations and just started cutting away.

The Pink Lady

Cherry Blossoms & Birdies

Black Damask

Geometric Goodness

Dotty in Blue

Dotty in Brown

Speaking of the monster, some of these were finished the night before I was induced. Isn't it fun to imagine me making these, my 9+ months pregnant belly making it hard to reach my sewing machine from the chair? I can't believe he's over 3 months old. Here he is on his 3 month birthday. Where does the time go? Soon he's going to be off to preschool, then kindergarten, and before you know it I'll be sobbing at his high school graduation. STOP GROWING UP SO FAST WILL.

Will, with his ugly doll beard.

Anyway, back to the bags. Do you want to see the innards? Do you!? DO YOU!!?! Well too bad. You're going to have to go to PenguinBot on October 1st to see them. There will also be more small tote bags for you to check out!

October 1st is only a week and a half away. HOLY CRAP.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

it's coming, it's coming, it's coming

Warning: Excessive Capitalization and Overuse of Punctuation Ahead. Use Extreme Caution.

The planned opening of the PenguinBot shop is October 1st. October! Holy crap, that's soon. I'm finishing up some more lovely bags, Lorney is finishing the website, we're taking pictures, we're talking to the government. Holy crap! October 1st is soon.

Would you like to see a few things that are going to be in the shop? Would you? WOULD YOU?!!?! While these are not pictures that will go on the website, these are pictures of REAL items that will be in the NON-IMAGINARY PenguinBot shop of October 1st! Over the next few weeks I'll put up a few other items for you to preview, if you are so inclined.

Anyway, here are a few things that will be for sale in the new shop. October 1st. Mark your calendars people.

Here is a large tote bag that will be for sale. It has pretty red roses and black vinyl. The innards are red dots of various sizes with black dots of one size on a lovely white background.

I'm sure for the past 11,000 years you've been saying, "Alright Laurel, ENOUGH with Washington. Give us something else, some other state." Here you go! That's Oregon. NOT Washington. SO SHUT YOUR PIE HOLE. The innards of this lovely little coin purse are white dots on a black background.

This is one of my favorite bags ever. I kind of want to keep it for myself, but that sort of defeats the purpose of building a shop, doesn't it?

ALSO! Be on the watch for a new contest! A contest in which you can win fabulous, lovely handmade items (handmade by me! I MAKE ALL THIS STUFF!)! A contest to celebrate the opening of PenguinBot! WOOOOO!!!!!


Thursday, July 31, 2008

he'll save children, but not the British children

I mentioned back in this post that I needed to make a diaper bag for ourselves. I finally got around to it over the last few days. The plan was to make something with the Dodgers flying baseball thingy on it, but I was out of dark blue vinyl and the place I usually buy it has it on backorder. Instead of being patient and waiting for more vinyl to come in, I came up with a different plan.

I had a big roll of green vinyl that I'd yet to do anything with. A roll of green vinyl that was roughly the color of Washington State highway signs. Hmm.

As you have seen in other posts (here and here and here), I have a faux-fondness for George Washington. Mainly I like this video. Seriously, have you watched it yet? You should. It's funny.

I had my Washington stencil file from the other projects I'd done with it. I'd just need to enlarge it and print it off. Less work than coming up with something new, and I'm quite interested in less work these days. Hmm.

Thus, the George Washington diaper bag was born. We can tell Will that we're all patriotic or something, not that his mom was inspired by a cartoon full of lies about our first president.

He made love like an eagle falling out of the sky.

The fabric I used on the lining was given to me by Nate and Miranda for my birthday a few years ago. I want to use it to make an apron and a few other things, but well...I just haven't gotten around to it yet. But I liked it for the diaper bag. I like George Washington and I also like birds.

Also, I like sleep. I'm going to go get some now.

He'll kick you apart.

Monday, July 28, 2008

NY Times Chocolate Chip Cookies

A few weeks ago Nate, my brother-in-law, shared an article from the New York Times about the quest for the perfect chocolate chip cookie on his Google Reader. A recipe adapted from one of the pastry chefs they interviewed is linked to the article. A few of the baking blogs I read discussed the recipe, and I was craving sweets (as usual), so I decided to try them out.

I only used all purpose flour, as I didn't own and was too lazy/cheap to go buy the two different types of flour listed. Lorne picked up 62% cacao chocolate chips for the recipe. We didn't feel like spending the time (or more money) searching out the fancy disk things used in the recipe either. The most interesting thing about the recipe (and the article) is that they recommend chilling your cookie dough for at least 24 hours, preferably 36. I'm impatient so I started baking as soon as the 24 hours was up. My intention was to bake them all at once, but Will interfered after 12 cookies were done. I didn't get around to baking the rest until it had been almost 72 hours.

I'm terrible at estimation, so when it said to make the cookies the size of "a generous golf ball" I had to get out a golf ball for comparison. The cookie dough tasted amazing. I've eaten a lot of cookie dough and I can honestly say is probably my favorite dough of the chocolate chip variety. I had high hopes when the first six went into the oven.

Unfortunately, I didn't love the first 12 I baked. I mean, they were good, but far from the best chocolate chip cookies I'd ever had. First, they were crispy. Crispy is a good attribute in fried chicken, but I prefer my cookies more on the chewy side. The article and recipe talk about how they'd have three rings - crispy with a chewy interior ring, leading to a soft center - but they were crispy all through. Boo. Second, they were, dare I say, too chocolaty. The dark chocolate is very good, yes, but that's all I could taste. It overpowered the cookie flavor completely.

The good news is that knowing that the first 12 were too crispy for my tastes, when I went to bake the last of the dough a few days later, I turned the oven down a tiny bit and took them out a minute and a half earlier than I had before. The texture on these (the ones I remembered to photograph) was much better. A little crispy on the outside, nice and chewy elsewhere. I also picked some of the excess chocolate chips out of the second 12 cookies as well so I'd be able to taste the cookie better. And the cookie itself was fantastic. So next time I make these I'll probably only use 2/3 the recommended chocolate chips and bake them less time. Also, the salt on the top was yummy.

The recipe: (original recipe is here)

3 2/3 cups minus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour

1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt

2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter

1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) light brown sugar

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) granulated sugar

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract

1 1/4 pounds bittersweet chocolate chips, at least 60 percent cacao content

Sea salt.

1. Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.

2. Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Drop chocolate pieces in and incorporate them without breaking them. Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. Dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.

3. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Set aside.

4. Scoop 6 3 1/2-ounce mounds of dough (the size of generous golf balls) onto baking sheet, making sure to turn horizontally any chocolate pieces that are poking up; it will make for a more attractive cookie. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, 18 to 20 minutes (I did a little less than 18). Transfer sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then slip cookies onto another rack to cool a bit more. Repeat with remaining dough, or reserve dough, refrigerated, for baking remaining batches the next day. Eat warm, with a big napkin.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The stars at night

Are big and bright
clap clap clap clap
Deep in the heart of Texas!

Lisa wins a coin purse for being in tune with my uterus.

This is Lisa's prize for her freakishly accurate prediction of when Will would be born (seriously, she was off by ten minutes). She and her husband moved to San Diego from Texas a few years before Lorne and I came here, and we met when she befriended me at my last job. Lisa regularly threatens to disembowel anyone that might think about being a jerk to me and is 40 different types of awesome.

An off-center picture of the innards.

I associate Texas with Lisa, then with this clip from Pee Wee's Big Adventure. I've trained myself to disassociate it with our current president.