Tuesday, April 24, 2007

a lotta hat

I made this sun hat from Simple Sewing to take on our Bahamas cruise this week. E's whole family (8 of us) is going to celebrate his mom's 60th birthday. It will definitely protect my face from the sun, but I can' t really see out from under the wide brim. Like the door stop, this pattern seems to result in a larger end product than what's pictured. If it weren't so floral, it might work better for E than for me. Well, I'll just have to put it on once I get where I'm going!
I also finally baked a loaf of the no knead bread, and man is it good! The crust is exactly how I like it, tough enough to make my jaw sore from chewing, and then nice and soft in the middle. I used a cup of whole wheat flour, which seems just right. This will definitely become a regular staple in our kitchen. I hope there's still some left tomorrow so I can try this panzanella recipe!

Monday, April 23, 2007

back at it

I promise I won't post about this quilt again until it's finished, and right now I actually think that it might be finished some day. But I'm back at it, though this time it's not as much of a struggle to get it through the machine. Maybe I'm just not being as picky. And the frequent breaks, like this one, are helping, too. I have really been enjoying my new Haflinger slippers, the only perfect footwear I've found in my current search for comfortable shoes. Excellent arch support + nothing that rubs. Why is it that the best ones can't be worn out?

Friday, April 20, 2007

a little better

I've read and heard several times lately about how even little changes make a difference, but sometimes my little changes seem so little. But when I thought about today's to-do list, I realized these little changes will take up a good part of the day, which isn't so little.

First, drop off soil from our yard to be tested -- to grow my own pesticide free veggies and improve our newly chemical-free lawn. Deliver winter coats to the green earth cleaners. Recycle e-wastes--dust buster with missing parts, torn up extension cords, satellite box-- at the city facility. Go online and buy more biodegradable bags for dog duty. And I looked down at the dining room floor at our newest arrival, a custom rug made from recycled PET plastic, surprisingly soft and plush.

So, just in time for Earth Day, I feel like maybe my little changes have added up to something a little significant. But there's always more we can do.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Inspired to garden

Let me lead you through these photos--there is a connection. On Saturday, students and teachers gathered at the home of one of our students to eat Thai food. Her boyfriend, an American, travels to Thailand frequently and has become quite the chef. You can see the volume of food he was working with--tofu, onions, lime--the rice noodles were in a 5-gallon bucket! When I asked my student where he buys ingredients like kaffir lime leaves and lemongrass, she replied, 'Oh, he grows them.' Not only does he grow those, his yard contained cabbage, oranges, chickens, and there was catfish until they ate it last week, she said. E and I were blown away buy how beautifully landscaped his yard was, on top of his mini-farm! So I've started thinking hard about getting going on a mini-garden of my own. My brother and grandmother have had great success with vegetable gardening, so I'm hopeful I'll have similar luck.
I headed to the library this morning to get some books on the subject, and went out into a thick cloud of smoke that has blown down from Georgia. That's the main street near my house--that haze was enough to burn my eyes and make me sneeze like crazy. And when I got to the library, the lady at the desk said, 'Looks like the smoke is clearing up.' I guess it had been even worse earlier. I know the books about keeping chickens is going to fuel endless jokes from my dad (hi, dad!), but I just want to learn about it. Maybe one day... The book Inspired by Jamie Durie was a new arrival, and it has great photos--I've only flipped through it. Home Cheap Home is a Budget Living publication, I guess from before the magazine folded. I had just been given a subscription when they went out of business, then was sent Shop, etc for a bit, and now it's gone. Now they've substituted Good Housekeeping--I guess they figure that one's here to stay!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

kobe containment

My latest home improvement endeavor has been this set of doors for our sunroom, a.k.a. Kobe's room. I've been wanting to get rid of the white metal baby gate ever since we put it up, but needed a decent-looking way to keep the pup contained.
We crate trained him as a puppy, which I highly recommend to anyone who wants minimal household damage from a teething, housetraining canine critter. Now that he has graduated from the crate, he contentedly stays in this room while we're out. I found one very modern + gorgeous DIY baby gate idea, but had envisioned this holed style ever since I saw a similar style headboard at west elm (not this one, but along those lines) and thought 'I can do that!' And I did, with a 2" hole saw drill attachment and lots of patience, and a loving husband to take over when my trigger finger got tired :). Since I created this for the dog, I'm not really worried about safety like baby gate users would be.
Heavy on my heart right now is the plight of the shelter where we got our sweet Kobe. Many dogs and cats were killed in a fire there last weekend. Please keep the animals and employees in your thoughts and prayers.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Red Friday

Another for color week.
One of my traveling amaryllises. When I moved to Japan, my mom added mine to her yard. Now that she doesn't have a yard, they're all blooming for the first time in their permanent home--my back yard. This red one is the first to bloom. I think I remember a variegated one, too. I'll know what I have back there soon!

Red is also the color of my house, and every house on my street. On our little block, we're all still red brick, and the red brick is there but under paint on many other streets. Even though I like to wear red, as far as the interior of my house goes, red doesn't work for me.

Everyone's color week photos have inspired me so much that I've started carrying my camera out with me. I'd love to have a stockpile of great photos the next time a project like this comes up.

Happy weekend!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Yellow Thursday

I finally have one for color week. *I really am posting this on Thursday even though date stamp says Tuesday.Can you see it? Little yellow flowers had fallen all over the yard last fall. It seemed a lot more yellow than it looks here.

Yellow is not normally a favorite color of mine, but I've been picturing it with grey for the new bag project that's been on my mind. I still have the grey canvas I bought to go with a blue and grey amy butler print, but yellow...well, we'll see.

Thank you all for your comments about the bags. It was great to hear from you all and even find a few new blogs to read! And the winner is----Leeann from MintBasil. It looks like she's been a lucky girl lately, and now she's getting a new dish towel bag.

Check out this cool boxy tote made from the same Martha towel set as my new tote bag. And speaking of dish towels/tea towels, did you see the first purse challenge on this new site? I am definitely up for this one!

Monday, April 9, 2007

and one for me!

I hope everyone had a nice weekend. Yesterday, we enjoyed a lovely day of family and food, first at E's parents', then mine. Three-day weekends are the perfect length to get stuff done and do nothing.I just had to sew up a tote for myself after I experienced how easy and fast they are to make. This is from one of the Martha towels. I first saw them a while ago but knew I would rather use them for something other than dish towels. The print reminds me of the fabrics in Lotta's book. I can't wait to see her textiles when they come out!

This one, like the fruit bags, is lined, but it would be such a snap to sew up some unlined ones to use for fruits and veggies at the supermarket. I only have one cloth bag that's designated for produce because of its size, and you can see in my last post that I need some more! For regular groceries I use larger store bought canvas bags, but the veggies do better off by themselves. I've been using the cloth bags for a few months now, which reduces the number of plastic ones being used, but there was an unexpected benefit as well. Using the cloth bags has also greatly reduced the bag clutter under the sink. No matter how much you ball the bags up and stuff them inside one another, those bags just seem to grow and multiply. But no more! I love my cloth bags. And that collection may soon start to multiply, but that would be A Good Thing.

Don't forget to leave a comment on the last post :)

Saturday, April 7, 2007

fruit bags and a little fruit

We went to the farmer's market this morning, and it was freezing! We ended up buying most of what we did from the vendors on the sunny side of the building because the shade was unbearable. We're big on veggies around here, but not fruit so much. Can you guess what's on the menu? Ceviche and salsa to take to tomorrow's Easter meals. And the potatoes looked to yummy to pass up.I made my first (and second) tote bag today. I thought the Martha Stewart dish towel idea from Write, mama. Write. was so cute and the perfect birthday gifts for two coworkers, both English as a second language teachers like me. Mama has taken down the tutorial to make some changes, so I did it based on memory, but her oil cloth bag looks similar and is also very fun looking. Because you're using the dish towel whole, the side with the picture ends up upside down, but doesn't that make it more interesting?OK. Here's the part you really want to read. It seems that I haven't heard much from readers lately, and I really love reading comments. So, I've decided to offer a Kayla-made dish towel tote bag to one of you. I'll check this post Wednesday or so and randomly choose one name from the comments. How does that sound? I've got plenty of the fruit and botanical towels, so I'll let you choose. Alright, who's going to accept my bribe?

Thursday, April 5, 2007

quilting to remember

I took my students yesterday to view blocks from the AIDS quilt that are on display at the university this week. Wow, was it powerful. I started thinking about this traveling memorial and how different it is from other memorial projects. So much love and care goes into making a quilt, and you can see it in the hundreds of blocks. Now I see how fitting it is to use quilts for this purpose. If you have the opportunity to see this project, you will definitely be moved.

Enjoying a day off with my E, with plans to celebrate his recent birthday (29!).

Monday, April 2, 2007

shrimp on a stick

E came home last night with some birthday goodies his mom made for him. I love all that she can do with her embroidery machine, and she comes up with so many creative things to make other than just monogrammed towels, although we have some of those, too, and I love 'em!
Some time I'll have to share my VW bookbag that she also made--I left it at school. It even has an old VW key tied onto it. E's dad had held onto a coffee can full of VW parts from their bug and ghia days more than 30 years ago. I think we've actually used some fuses from that can. I should stop talking because this might give my husband the idea that I support this kind of pack rat lifestyle!On Sunday, we attended probably my favorite event of the year, our city's World of Nations festival, held in a park for such events that's right on the river. As usual, I ran into current and former students representing their countries, and we ate a ton of food: ceviche in Panama, a Cuban sandwich and plantains in Cuba, baklava from Turkey, shrimp and pork on a stick in Cambodia, the veggie combo in India, tiramisu in Italy and a strawberry smoothie (?) in the African village area. All very tasty, and I kept hearing people say "I want one of those" when they passed me with my shrimp on a stick. Even though Jacksonville is not the most international of cities, it's really wonderful to see its residents embracing diversity for the weekend. I'm always hoping that the experience will pique the interest of some children to travel or at least open their minds to the world beyond our city's limits or our country's borders.

Go Gators!

Sunday, April 1, 2007

buttons and towels

Thought I'd share the photo I've been enjoying as my new desktop background. I took it before cutting the fabric to recover the chair.

Thank you all for your words of encouragement on my quilt fight--now I know I'm not alone, but I'm still hoping it'll get easier.

We ended the week of new recipes with one for risotto made in the microwave, probably so wrong in the eyes of real Italian chefs, but it always takes SO LONG on the stove. I got the recipe from my dad, who found it in Cooking Light, but they don't seem to have it on the website anymore. Basically, you microwave 4 cups of liquid (3.5c broth and .5c wine) for 5 minutes, then add 1 and 1/3c arborio rice for 15 minutes, stirring every 5. Then add your goodies (I did shrimp and corn) and microwave 4 more minutes, stirring halfway. Finally, stir in 3/4c cheese. I'll definitely do this again because I love risotto so much.

With E gone to a car show the last 2 days, I got to indulge in a little movie watching (and the best frozen pizza=no cooking!), so I chose a couple things I thought he wouldn't care to see. First, on Blair's recommendation, I watched Pieces of April and, actually, I think E would have liked it, too. It may be worth a second viewing before it goes back to Blockbuster. I also got The Devil Wears Prada, but haven't gotten to it yet. So, not much crafting went on during his time away, but I did stop at Kmart for some dish towels to make some totes based on Mama's tutorial, and I just came across these instructions for an easy dish towel apron. It was so hard to decide which ones to buy--there were so many patterns I loved. The Martha Stewart line is a recent discovery for me--I mean I knew it was there, but I didn't realize how much I would love it. I decided on the fruit set and the botanicals set, but the fruit print set, kind of like this fabric, was also really tempting.
And remember last week's pottery painting session? I picked them up yesterday. This divided tray that E painted is sitting on one of the MS botanical towels.