Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Relief


Ack. It's over. For the past few weeks I've been going through the process of getting a full-time job, well my job, only full-time. They've converted my 2 part-time jobs to a full-time position that will start in September. It's really no fun to compete with co-workers (friends) for a job, especially my own job. So, I had the nerve-racking interview today, and then as I was getting into my car, my boss ran out and congratulated me. I've been holding out for this for 5 years now! Finally.


So things may be different. This means a lot more working hours, and fewer crafting hours. Luckily, I have 4 weeks of teaching half days coming up, so hopefully I can squeeze in lots of creativity. Like trying to re-create this linen dress, my favorite summer dress for many years. Because of its length (and my age) I haven't worn it in a long time. It's the reason I *needed* white linen pants a couple summers ago. I love how it's pieced together, and the fabric is so soft. We'll see...I've never sewn arm holes.

Friday, July 27, 2007

my city

Last night, E and I went with my students on a cruise up the St. Johns River, an annual summer "field trip." Seeing Jacksonville from the river makes me appreciate where we live even if it's not my first choice:) We are really lucky to have access to the river, the intracoastal, and the ocean, and we don't take advantage of it enough. With a month of lighter working hours coming up, I hope I can make the most of summer and enjoy that water!
It's funny that Alicia posted about going crazy with bias tape, since I've been working on this giant roll this week. New napkins with this binding are in the works.

I'm off to the beach!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

more green and grey

Gosh, I've been bad about post titles lately--sometimes I go back and add one, and sometimes, like the last one--oh well. Sorry!


So, I promised some photos of our new composite deck, which we are thoroughly enjoying. We've had a couple of meals out on it, and now I'm on the hunt for a basket or tray we can use to get everything to and from the kitchen. We found this giant umbrella, great for the shade it provides, but it also has tiny solar-powered LED lights on the inside for after the sun goes down. Very handy since we haven't installed a light out there yet. Our dads and E and his brother did such a great job. Thanks guys!!


And okra, oh okra. I had almost given up hope, but my dad spotted the first little pod last weekend. Its flowers are beautiful, and I can see lots of okra on its way. Hmmm. What should I make first?


I picked up a loaf (and a free mini loaf!) at Great Harvest today, and it is the heaviest bread EVER. It's dense, but in a really good way. Excellent flavor, basic ingredients, and whole grain. The guy who sold it to me confirmed that they mill the wheat right there in the store. Yum. I am such a carboholic, so I'm glad I can feel good about eating this!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


Karaoke-ing with American+Japanese friends...drooling over Japanese paper ...spending many hours at mitsuwa...sitting in on my co-worker's japanese history study sessions...getting excited about another co-worker applying to teach in japan...even suggesting to E that we go back to Japan to live/work(I even researched how long the pup would have to be quarantined!)=I think I'm in Japan withdrawal.

People warned me that it's hard to stay put once you've traveled and lived overseas, and that's what I'm struggling with lately. So, if I can't escape to Japan for good, maybe escaping for one night will do the trick.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

WHOLE grain

Yesterday, while E and his brother and our dads built our gorgeous new deck, I went to a baking class with a co-worker. A bunch of women at her church who mill their own wheat give classes every few months. They focus on the benefits of whole grains, especially freshly-milled whole grains. We all know that whole wheat is better than white flour, but apparently a lot of the nutrients are lost from whole wheat flour after the wheat berries are milled, so if you mill it yourself, and then bake your own bread, you get all the benefits. Fortunately, someone mentioned a bakery really close by (I guess these are all over) that mills its own wheat. The food at the class was delicious--we made our own tortillas and bread, and they served a lentil stew with tofurkey sausage for lunch.
One of the benefits, they say, of eating more whole grains/fiber, is that it can decrease sugar cravings. I've been noticing the quantity of sweets I'm eating, and it's out of control! Especially with long work hours, I hit the vending machine even though it doesn't sell anything good. Well, I'm only about 24 hours into my attempt to eat more whole grains, but I haven't even been tempted by the brownie+fudge ice cream in the freezer. Instead, I made a snack of granola bars from a recipe they handed out yesterday. Here's what I included:
3 tbs butter
3/8 c honey (these 2 boiled for about 15 min)
1 1/2 c rolled oats
almonds, cashews, dried apricots, craisins, yellow raisins
You just pour the honey mixture over the dry ingredients and then press them into a pan, cool in the fridge, and cut. It made about 10 bars.

I'll be back soon with pictures of the deck. Now we have somewhere to eat (our whole grains) outside--I love it!

Friday, July 20, 2007

designing my space

I picked up this yukata near a temple market during my last days living in Kyoto. That table runner matched it perfectly, and I didn't have an obi for it--and I have actually worn it!

Having grown up with a home builder dad and an interior designer mom, the houses I've lived in have always been beautiful. Now that I have my own home, I realize how much I was influenced by my upbringing. When I was young, I couldn't wait to live somewhere that I could paint flowers on the walls and keep a messy room (this finally happened in high school, in the house my parents planned to stay in). I love making my house my own, and even though I have a little of that interior designer point of view, I think my approach is different. A few people, when they come over for the first time, have commented that our house 'looks like Trading Spaces' or that they like all of our travel memorabilia displayed. For me, my house is nothing if it's not personal, so everything, minus maybe the TV and the sofa, has a story or some sentimental value. When I look around, I realize that nothing was purchased simply as decoration, but everything reminds me of a trip we took, a project we worked on, or a special person. My aunt and uncle (also builder+designer) once sold a house they'd been living in, with all its contents. They agreed to the sellers' request to take only 10 personal items when they moved out. It's admirable to not be attached to 'things' that way.

But here are a few things around our house, that I have to say I'm rather attached to, along with a little of their history:
I took this photo of some school boys playing on the public phones at the train station in Nara, I think. Tiffany would probably know. In a wedding gift frame.I received this very cute hanging pocket thing from a student a few years ago. It always makes me think of her--salsa-dancing Konomi and her Venezuelan boyfriend Luis.
I learned to play on this, my grandparents' piano, now under another noren from our last trip to Japan.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

hot hot

A completely unrelated food photo--but can you believe that mass of blueberries? Yum.

Last night we thawed what I thought was a Brazilian dish I had made a while back, but when I started to smell peanut butter, I decided to investigate. It turned out to be an African stew, with okra! So I got something I've been craving. It looks like we need to label what we freeze.

E tried this recipe for Moroccan Spiced Chickpea soup last week and it was excellent. This summer we've been alternating between super-cool meals like salads and sandwiches and then stews and curries. Spicy is so good during cold weather, but it's so satisfying to give into the heat of the dish during the heat of summer.

Here’s a little story from our traveling days. In Singapore, E and I bought some super-spicy noodles on the street. We were sweating like crazy after just a few bites. I was looking at a map or something and when I looked back up, he had eaten all the noodles. At first I was pretty annoyed, but he seemed as shocked as I was that the noodles were gone. The heat had taken him to some unconscious level, he explained. Crazy, right? Well, I knew those noodles were spicy, and he was in a full body sweat. We laughed about what happened, but it changed my way of thinking about spicy food. When I eat spicy Indian or Thai food, I think about the people and the countries that created these recipes. They eat these foods in such hot weather. I imagine them letting the heat of the weather and the food overcome them, feeling that sweat drip from their eyebrows, and before they know it, that bowl is clean!

And speaking of spicy, we’ll be enjoying these Indian packets my mom brought back from Boston. There’s no Trader Joe’s here, so that was my souvenir request. So even if I don't feel like cooking it, I can still eat it!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Now that I've finished my quilt, I can focus on my new color obsession: green and grey. I'm not leaving blue and grey by the wayside of course, but I am appreciating the very apple green wall in our living room again, after wanting to repaint it blue for many months. We spent the day hauling supplies for a wood composite deck we (well, mostly E and our dads) will be working on soon. I've kinda jumped the gun on the exterior design part of the project. I started collecting pots for the deck several years ago, and the table, chairs, umbrella, pillows, and rug/plastic mat are ready and waiting! All with the green and grey theme.
We painted this table that was previously unfinished and has lots of sentimental value to match some grey chairs I've had since my single days. I added the green stripe with leftover paint from our living room wall. The mat we got has a color and design similar to these outdoor pillows.
I know the juniper here is truly dead, but I love this photo anyhow, more green and grey.
Oh, and way back there against the fence you can see the green in my little garden plot as well. Still waiting, with lots of ideas, for that okra.

And congratulations to Maria of Port 2 Port Press for being featured in Real Simple magazine. I was so happy to see a blogger and her beautiful work in such a large publication.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Finally!


And the result is a very simple, yet finished!, soft, soft quilt for the living room. A while ago, I saw a TV show about the couple who started fold bedding, and I love the long, simple lines, so that’s kind of what I had in mind on the quilting of this project. Finally, we can get rid of the fleece dog hair magnets we use as blankets! Since the quilting was less than enjoyable (till the walking foot), I think I’ll spend more time on the piecing step next time. It’s amazing what you can do with fabric. Like this table runner. Gorgeous.

My recent pet project has been attempting to improve my gas mileage. With the brakes out on the bug (again), I’m back to driving our newer but less fuel efficient car. So, I’m moving comparatively super slow (well, 60ish) on the highway, and complaining about E’s driving, but it has paid off: 24 more miles on the tank than usual. That’s like a free gallon. And now E is on board, too—he said ‘I can make it all the way to work driving under 1500rpms!’ His car has a gas mileage readout on the dash, so it’s fun to see how high you can get it! We’re dorks. Sorry!

Saturday, July 7, 2007

walking...

...with a walking foot, that is. I can't believe the end might be in sight for my quilt! On the fourth, we were at E's parents' and I tried out his mom's new machine. She sent me home with a walking foot from her old machine, and, man, does it make a difference. A little more quilting and then binding, and I may have something to show off soon!
I tried out a little embroidery on the new curtain. I love this look, simple and hand-made. Like this linen noren we bought on a trip to Japan 2 years ago. I do love linen. Speaking of which, I discovered I heart linen recently. Her hand applique is absolutely lovely.

We've had Live Earth going in the background today, and they did a great job on the ads and short films between the music, like the knitted earth here and one that promotes taking reusable bags for shopping. And Chris Rock's veggie chopping had E and me chuckling!

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

blueberry yum

We're off to share our pie. Enjoy your day!

Monday, July 2, 2007

change

As I type, there's a man shimmying through the branches of the tree over our house. Our new neighbor is having the part that hangs over her roof cut in preparation for hurricane season. Between the logs falling from the tree this morning, the first big thunder storm of the season yesterday, and distant fireworks last night, Kobe hasn't left my side.
Each day we've been coming home to find the pup in his safe spot--a little cave behind the futon. Instead of being scared, though, I think he's trying to escape the heat of his room without window coverings. As of this weekend, we're making progress in that area--blinds on most windows and a panel for the kitchen.
I went for white blinds with grey ribbons. E loves the look, but I feel a bit like I'm in prison. Change is hard for me. As ridiculous as it is, I have to convince myself that getting rid of the broken plastic miniblinds was the right thing to do.
The simple panel in the kitchen can be opened, but based on how we used the blinds that were there, I think it'll stay closed most of the time. I strategically put the darker echino print at the bottom so that any dirty paw prints will be camouflaged. Kobe can get really excited about going for a walk while I put on my shoes. I'd like to add an embroidered bee to one of the lighter sections. I sure do love the look of the embroidery in simple sewing and on the apron jenny made.
Well, the prognosis for the tree is not good. He found lots of rot and fungus, and said it's toward the end of its life span. Our only tree--I don't want to see it go. Like I said, change is a tough thing for me.