I'm 27 now! Yaaaaaaay! We had a lovely day of shopping with gift cards and dining at a fancy Italian restaurant called La Sorella di Francesca. Everything was fabulous, especially the tiramisu, light as air, amazing!

It has been a year since I made (really attempted to make) 26 goals to accomplish before I turn 27. Let's see how I did!

1. Bake a loaf of bread from scratch! Check!
2. Make naan! Check! But it was awful and made me nauseous, so I did not share the recipe!

3. Knit a shale baby blanket! Check!
4. Create an etsy shop. Check, check, check!

5. Read an entire work in Latin. Not even close. Well, closer to this goal than I was last year!

6. Complete the Buffy Season 8 comic book series. Yes! But then, thankfully, Joss Whedon released another volume!!! So I can continue nurturing this obsession.

7. Learn how to quilt. No. But, I would like a sewing machine for Christmas (hint, hint, nudge, nudge), so maybe I'll have better luck this year!

8. Think of 26 things I want to accomplish. Nope. Ha! I only got to 13.

9.Write, on average, one blog post per week. Whoa! I just counted and I wrote 83 blog posts this year! That's an average of 1.6 per week! 

10. Have 20 items for sell in my etsy shop. Nope! I've only reached 16 so far. But I'm really happy with that! I have reached 20 sales though, just yesterday in fact! Yaaay!

11. Learn how to embroider. Check! It has definitely been my favorite new hobby this year.
12. Be more intentional about making friends. This one is hard to quantify. I was not able to meet with all the ladies on my "To Have Coffee With" list, but the few coffee dates I did have all resulted in deeper friendships, so I'm very thankful for that.

13. Read at least one book from every author on the Great Books list. Pssssssh, yeah right. I knew this one was impossible when I made the goal, so I'll just have to continue working toward this accomplishment this year!

I'll be back soon with 27 goals before 28!
Here are some more things I want to accomplish before I turn 27.

12. Be more intentional about making friends. It's hard making friends once you're an adult isn't it? This year, I realized that I am surrounded by inspiring, admirable and just plain awesome ladies and I need to take advantage of that. So, I  made a list of women to make a coffee/lunch date with so I can get to know them better, and I intend to check them all of my list before I'm 27! That sounds funny, as if they're just something to cross off my to-do list. I can't help it, I am a big list person! So ladies, please don't be offended that next to your name there is a box with a check in it. 

13. Read at least one book from every author on the Great Books list. Okay, this is virtually impossible to complete in my few months left as a 26 year old, but I'm excited to get started!

 A little background first: The Great Books are works that have been judged to meet the following three criteria a) "the book has a contemporary significance" b) "the book is inexhaustible; it can be read again and again with benefit" and c) "the book is relevant to a large number of the great ideas and great issues that have occupied the minds of thinking individuals for the last 25 centuries." That last one is a bit odious isn't it? As if some individuals don't think?  There is a lot of controversy about the list, you can read all about that on the wikipedia article, but for my part I think it's a great starting point if you want to read the most influential books of all time, which I do!

Looking through the list I realize how fortunate I am to have had a great education. I can't believe how many of these books I've been lucky enough to read! You should check the list out, I'm sure you'll want to write a thank you note to your English / History / Economics / Classics teacher! He/She will be so grateful to hear from you!

As for the books I haven't read yet, I think I've discovered the easiest and cheapest way to check them off the list (see, I'm a big list person).
I got a Kindle! Normally, I wouldn't buy such new-fangled technology for myself, but this, my friends, was free!! I used my credit card points to get an amazon gift card, best idea I ever had (actually it was Jared's idea). As soon as I got it in the mail, I proceeded to download 130 books from the Great Books list. And the best part? Didn't cost a penny! The vast majority of Great Books are in the public domain, which means you can download them for free. Normally, that wouldn't be very helpful because who wants to print out the complete works of Shakespeare? But with a Kindle, you just download it in seconds and it's all at your fingertips! I swear I am not being paid to say these things, I am just very excited : )

I think it would be fun to share what book I am currently reading, and my thoughts about it. Would that interest you all, or bore you to tears? Don't be afraid to be honest with me!
Today Jared's brother Nathan and his wife Michele are being blessed by a baby shower to celebrate "little Peanut," our soon to be nephew! I wish we could be there! Thankfully, I was able to complete my gifts in time. Here's what I made!
Aren't you glad I finished this blanket? Now I can stop talking about it so much! Michele requested the Shale Baby blanket, a) because it's beautiful but also b) because she wanted to encourage me to finish one of my 26 before 27 goals. She's pretty sweet, right?
Sorry, I couldn't help myself. I promise that will be the last picture of the Shale Baby Blanket I post. So get a good look at it. I totally understand if you want to save it and maybe it make it your desktop background or something, I'll probably do that. *stares at lovingly, one last time*

Ok, moving on. I also wanted to give something for Little Peanut that would be a surprise to his parents so I made this!
*Squeal* Isn't it cute?! When I saw this pattern from Wild Olive I knew I had to get it because Little Peanut's nursery has an otter theme. The white stitches around the edge are to keep a piece of felt attached to the back to cover up the messy stitches.

Like I've mentioned before, I love makings things for babies. While I was working on these items my cheeks hurt from smiling so much! I can't wait to meet the little guy!
Ever since I saw Wild Olive's embroidery patterns, I knew I wanted to learn how to cross stitch.
Image from Wild Olive etsy shop. Click image for link.
Cuteness overload! (By the way, I asked Mollie, the Wild Olive shop owner, if I could use this picture, and she said yes and gave me the pattern, to boot! I was over-the-moon happy! Her shop is full of cute patterns and printable stationery, go check it out!)

So, I've wanted to learn to embroider for a while now, but the stars just aligned this week. This is what happened. 
1. Jared's mom was visiting and she was cross stitching. I really enjoyed watching her and it helped me understand what the process involves.
2. I had received a Michael's gift card and was waiting for inspiration to strike before I used it.
3. My sister-in-law Michele had given me cross stitching patterns she found in Martha Stewart Magazine because she remembered that I wanted to learn to cross-stitch. Isn't she sweet?
4. Then, this week, I saw this.
Image from Sam Gibson's etsy shop. Click image for link.
Gorgeous! Such exquisite detail, I love it. When I came across this image browsing the internet I said to myself, "That's it Molly, you can't live another day without learning how to cross stitch." I immediately closed my laptop, got into my car and drove to Michael's. I came home with this!
I only paid 60 cents! Aren't gift cards the greatest?! So after many hours, a bout of double vision (is that normal when cross stitching?), and a bloody thumb, I had this!
Certainly, not as good as Mollie's or Sam's, but at least you can tell it's a bird on a branch, right? To commemorate the occasion, I stitched my initials and year. I love how timeless the design is, unless I stitched the year on it no one would know when it was made! I'll be sure to keep you posted on my future embroidery projects!
I made bread!!! and it's sooo gooooooood! but it's even easier than it is good, which is a lot! Can you tell I'm excited about this recipe? Jim Lahey, a baker in New York City developed it and the Times calls it "revolutionary" because of its "combination of great crumb, lightness, incredible flavor...and an enviable, crackling crust, the feature of bread  that most frequently separates the amateurs from the pros." Are you excited yet?! Don't you want to make this bread right now?! Well don't go preheating your oven yet, because that part doesn't come until 20 hours from now. Yes, what makes this bread so fabulous is that you needn't knead it, because the long time for rising does the work that is normally done by kneading. Does it sound like I know what I'm talking about? Because I don't. I just followed the directions. If you're interested in the science you should read the Times article linked above, very interesting! Ok let's get down to it.
In a large bowl stir together 3 cups flour, 1/4 teaspoon yeast and 1 1/4 teaspoon salt. Pour in 1 5/8 cups of water and mix together with a spatula or your hands just until the dough comes together. It won't be pretty, don't worry. You can't really mess this up, for instance I thought that 1/4 teaspoon yeast was entirely too little and instead put in a whole packet, as if I knew more than a master baker. But the bread still turned out amazing so again, don't worry no matter how ugly your dough looks at first.
Put some plastic wrap over it and let it sit for 18 hours. When it's ready it'll look like this, with little bubbles all over. Pour the dough onto a floured surface. The dough will be very sticky so add some flour on top so it doesn't stick to your hands. Flatten it a bit with your hands, then fold it over onto itself twice and shape it into a ball.
On a cotton towel (not terry cloth) sprinkle some cornmeal or wheat bran. Put the dough on it seam side down. Sprinkle some more cornmeal or wheat bran on top and fold the towel to cover the dough. Let it sit for another 2 hours. After 1 hour and 30 minutes have passed, put a heavy bottomed pot with a lid in the oven and preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
It should be a lot bigger after 2 hours. Starting to look like bread huh?
 Now carefully take the hot pot out of the oven and plop the dough into it with the seam side up. Mine didn't have much of a seam, but that's okay.
Put the lid back on the pot and bake for 30 minutes. Then take the lid off and bake for 15 more minutes or until bread is browned, up to 30 minutes. 
Let cool on a rack and then stare at it. Is it not the most beautiful loaf of bread you ever saw, and all the more beautiful because you made it? Note the delicious caramel color of the crust, the subtle grid pattern left by your cotton towel, the artful contrast between the cornmeal and the crust. Once you have fully savored this moment and have taken a few pictures for posterity, you may cut into your bread.
Gasp! Even more to admire! Look at all those air bubbles! Feel the weight of the bread in your poorly manicured fingers. Just the right consistency for absorbing an italian seasoned olive oil.
Check out this monster sandwich. What a great picture, it looks like it's attacking you! The only downside to this bread, (is it even a downside?) is that the crust leaves a lot of crumbs, you can see them all over the background in this picture. You're gonna have to sweep your kitchen floor after slicing this bread. But that is just the price you pay for a crust that "separates the amateurs from the pros!"

Recipe source: New York Times
This has been a slow year. 2011 is 30% over and I haven't even finished making my list of 26 things I want to accomplish. Yeesh!

8. Think of 26 things I want to accomplish this year.
9. Write on average, one blog post a week.
I really do feel guilty for writing so sparingly this winter. Apparently I creatively hibernate. Meaning, not that I hibernate in creative ways but that I seem to have a lack of creativity during the coldest months, a seasonal creativity disorder if you will. But, it's spring now so I have no excuses! 
10. Have 20 items for sale in my etsy shop.
Write now I only have 8. I have some ideas, like a lace infinity scarf, a cabled book cover, a lacy bookmark, and a knitted picture frame. What do you think? Would you buy any of those? 
10. Learn how to embroider.
Embroidery is back in a big way! Gah, I love it so much!
 Wild Olive has like, a billion precious patterns I want to try, if only I knew how. 
Doesn't it make your heart skip a beat?! Penguin is releasing a new edition of some classic books this fall with covers designed by Jillian Tamaki. (Thanks Allison for sharing this on your blog!)
 I'm lucky enough to have some embroidered art made by my Aunt Susan. I love having it in our apartment. Isn't it cute!? Hopefully by the end of the year, I'll have some of my own embroidery to add to the wall.
our quilt
I love quilts. Even when I was younger and had no creative bone in my body, I really appreciated the hand made quilts that made their way into my home. I have no idea who made them, and I wish I did. I would try to decipher the pattern, inspect the details in the different fabrics and try to imagine how it was made. Now that I have confidence in my textile skills, I want to learn how to quilt! Thus, the next of my 26 goals before I turn 27 is

7. Learn how to quilt.

Thankfully, there are lots of resources for new quilters online like Rachel Denbow's e-course "Modern Patchwork"
image from Smile and Wave
Cute stuff, huh? I really want to learn how to make that stuffed dinosaur. Rachel is giving away 3 free spots in this e-course, all you have to do is comment on her post here. I reeeeaally hope I get into one of those 3 spots, but if I don't, I'll probably purchase it anyway! Now I just need a sewing machine, does anyone know where I can get a good one on the cheap?
5. Read an entire work (something good), in Latin!

I'm a Latin teacher, for those who don't know, but...brace yourself...I've never read an entire book in Latin. Whew, it feels good to get that off my chest. So, I wanted to find a book that was really worth the effort and that I would thoroughly enjoy. Nothing too lofty or abstract. But I think I finally found something! 
Thisbe-John William Waterhouse
When I was at home for Christmas break, I found some old textbooks from college and one of them has selections from Ovid's Metamorphoses! My favorite story from Metamorphoses is Pyramus and Thisbe. It's essentially the inspiration for Romeo and Juliet, so, it's kind of a big deal. Not only is it a beautiful story in itself, but the Latin is so...charming! I can't think of a better word for it.  Reading it makes my heart race and I can't help but smile! Get a load of this!

conscius omnis abest, nutu signisque loquuntur,
quoque magis tegitur, tectus magis aestuat ignis.

Just read it out loud, don't worry about what it means. Gorgeous isn't it? muah! bellissimum! If Pyramus and Thisbe is this great, I'm sure the rest of the Metamorphoses will be delightful.

6. Now for an equally lofty literary endeavor, to complete the Buffy Season 8 comic book series!
This will probably be the easiest goal for me to complete this year, but I'm still super giddy about it!
What a great Thanksgiving it's been! Jared and I started a new tradition where I make all the food on Wednesday and we eat it Wednesday night. That way, we can leisurely eat left overs all day on Thursday! This morning we slept in, then made pancakes together!
We've never made pancakes before. Isn't that funny? So we were particularly pleased with how well they turned out. Thanks bisquick!

I really enjoyed cooking Thanksgiving dinner yesterday. I chose recipes that I have never made before so it was pretty exciting! Pork loin with fennel stuffing, macaroni cheese casserole and brussels sprouts with bacon constituted our feast. The pork loin was the most risky recipe of the bunch.
My favorite was the macaroni cheese casserole, I'll share that recipe with you guys soon.

In other news, I accomplished goal number 4 of my 26 goals before I'm 27! I created an etsy shop! And I already made one sale (thanks Sharon!)! Right now I only have one item up, but hopefully there will be more to come soon. Go check out the shop, and if you're an etsy member be sure to favorite me! I added a link on the side bar to my shop with pictures of the items for sale, you can click on those pictures to take you to my shop as well.

My plans for the rest of this special day are: bake an apple pie, crochet a snow flake garland, and put up the Christmas tree! I'm super excited about all three. What are your Thanksgiving traditions that you're looking forward to? 
My 26th birthday is in a few weeks. Elsie, over at A Beautiful Mess inspired me to create a list of goals to accomplish before my 27th birthday. So I sat down with a text file and brainstormed! I'll share my goals over the following days before my birthday. I'll also keep you all posted on how these goals are coming along. Wish me luck!

1. Bake a loaf of sandwich bread from scratch.
I've made pie crusts, pizza crusts, corn bread, cake, cupcakes, brownies, breakfast breads, scones, but never a plain old loaf of sandwich bread. It's the yeast and the rising and the kneading that scares me.

2. Make naan.

I love Indian food. It's probably my favorite food. I love all the creaminess and spiciness. I'm working on becoming a better Indian food cook. I've only made dal shorva and (very inauthentic) samosas, but I feel like if I can make it over the naan obstacle, I'll be a better person for it. : )

3. Knit a Shale Baby Blanket.
Image from Brooklyn Tweed
Isn't it gorgeous! I love the combination of cables and lace. It was designed by celebrity knitter, Jared Flood. I've never knit any of his designs before, because I've never been anywhere close to good enough to understand his patterns. But I'm feeling more confident this year now that I learned how to knit cables! Looking at that picture makes me inhale deeply through my nose, close my eyes, and exhale. I really think it's that beautiful. Someone has to have a baby though, before I knit it. You can't just knit baby blankets for no particular baby, that's weird.

Do you like making goals? Does it inspire you, or make you feel stressed and discouraged? I usually don't make specific goals like this, so we'll see how it goes! I'll post more soon!