Wednesday, December 31, 2008

cravings


A few people have asked me if I've experienced any pregnancy cravings yet, but I think I always have cravings, especially for chocolate! I was surprised when, for several weeks, I had no interest in chocolate, and the permanent dish of dark chocolate candies on our counter lay untouched. I'm back to normal, though. A Whole Foods opened in our city a few weeks ago, and I'm so excited about good food. I didn't want to become a Whole Foods junkie, but when they offer you samples at the chocolate counter, how can you resist? I'm still vowing to shop at our local natural foods store whenever I can.


So these are a couple of snacks to fulfill that need for chocolate. My own creation--Dark chocolate drizzled popcorn, made with the most peppery popcorn--yum!


And from the chocolate counter--Piedras de chocolate or chocolate stones--aren't they beautiful? They taste even better!

Monday, December 29, 2008

holiday decor



This was one of those years that Christmas came before it really felt like Christmas. I know it had a lot to do with the 80-degree weather and the fact that our decorations didn't get put up until Christmas eve.


One of my vacation goals was to sew a new tree skirt to replace the old chenille one I bought years ago. I wanted something very simple, but with some embellishment. After sewing the quilt sandwich on the machine, the buttons, sashiko-inspired embroidery, and sequins made for great lap work.


Looking forward to a little more time to myself before returning to work next week. In my plans: spend some time in the kitchen making some sweet snacks (we'll just call them New Years cookies:)), a little deep cleaning, and most exciting--some baby sewing. I'm so excited about the fabrics I've bought!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

making room


Every time E and I used to talked about having kids, the issue of space (Where would we put it?) would come up. Now we're really dealing with it. Yeah--it's time to get a baby room ready! I'm about 4 months along, and we're really excited.

So when I finally get around to making a bird mobile for me, it'll really be for baby! I'm so excited about the sewing time I'm going to have during my winter break. If you have any project suggestions, let me know!

Monday, November 17, 2008

couch companion


Thank you all so much for the knitting advice. It has turned out to be the perfect project for right now. After a few restarts, including when Kobe took off across the yard with the knitting, but not the ball of yarn, I think I've got the basics figured out. After the Kobe mishap, I even learned how to knit in new yarn!


The color of the yarn matches the late tomatoes that I discovered in the garden. There are probably more out there now than I got all summer!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Stuck!



Being pretty low on energy after work lately, I've been watching waaay too much TV, so I decided I need a 'lap project' I can work on. With winter on its way, knitting seemed like the perfect craft to pick up. So, armed with some yarn, new needles, and a few books from the library, I gave it a try. Somehow, I was able to decipher the instructions and diagrams well enough to cast on, but now I'm stuck! I'll probably give it another shot later since I haven't explored any online resources that might help.

The two books I picked up at the library have been nice to look at, even if I can't follow their directions! One is this Debbie Bliss book, which has gorgeous pictures and projects including the scarf (aka long rectangle) I'm attempting. The other is a book written by Tracey Ullman and a yarn store owner. The projects are way above my head, but I'm enjoying their commentary. One piece of advice I read was to choose needles and yarn that you'll love to work with, and they were so right! I have a feeling (if the knitting goes at all like the casting on!) that I'll be working/attempting to knit with these supplies for a long time:)

Monday, November 3, 2008

sweet potatoes


The other night, when I thought we might get our first frost, E and I went out and dug up all the sweet potatoes we had left in the garden. I love sweet potatoes. A while back, I googled 'how to cure sweet potatoes' and found a document written by George Washington Carver. Apparently he was almost as obsessed with sweet potatoes as he was with peanuts--he had written up all the info on how to grow, cure and store sweet potatoes, along with a ton of sweet potato recipes! Just what I was looking for, even though it was written decades ago.

I've been feeling nostalgic lately about the southern food I grew up on--big breakfasts, chicken and dumplings, lots of desserts--and hoping I can spend some time revisiting these foods during the holidays. Can you believe it's already that time of year?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

severed finger


For the last few years, I've been making these severed finger cookies for the Halloween party we have for our students. Some of the students were so disturbed by how the cookies looked that they wouldn't eat them! Yesterday's party was probably the best yet. It's so much fun to see these students who don't have a dress-up tradition in their cultures let loose for a day. We had a joker, a bride, several vampires, a prisoner--so much fun!! ( I was Japanese for the day.)

Happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

sunday stash

Lately I've been wishing/wanting/needing to be more present here on this blog, but it's just not happening. Which makes me wonder where I should go with this 'project'. Today, I saw that Beth is feeling the same way.

With a great fabric stash post idea found through Celestina Carmen, I decided to post my own. I love my fabrics so much, and while some are just fabric store finds, a lot have a story that makes me love them as much as the pattern.

So this is a fabric given to me by Tiffany, a blog friend who became a real-life friend. I love the fuchsia and teal, and I don't know exactly what kind of fiber this is, but it's sort of gauzy. This fabric has made its way into lots of projects, including the birds and my cork boards. I miss working with Tiffany, but I'm so glad she made it back to Japan!

Work and life are super busy + tiring these days, but I'm hoping for a reprieve soon so that I can get back to the things I miss: sewing, going to the library, working in the garden, and blogging!

Monday, September 29, 2008

sweet birds




As I'd hoped, I was able to get in some sewing this weekend, and it was on birds for a mobile made from the pattern at spool sewing. These might not look exactly like my kind of fabric choices--way more pink than I normally do--and that's because a friend and I worked on them for her sister's new baby's nursery. They'll assemble the mobile when she visits in a few weeks.


I think they turned out really sweet as a set, and I love how there are some surprises on a few of the bellies. Next up, a set of birds--not in pastels!-- for me.

Friday, September 26, 2008

i'm back (i think)

It feels like I'm posting again for the very first time. Hard to find the right photo and state of mind, but I have to get back into this. I just haven't been feeling like myself lately. And what's missing? The creativity. So, I'm back to the sewing machine this weekend to work on this super-cute bird mobile project.

The planter above is from greenware design. They were at the craft fair I did last November in Savannah. That seems like ages ago now.

Did you know yesterday was Teachers Day? I didn't, until I got the sweetest of notes from a student I've become close to. That, and a few other little things have happened this week to remind me how meaningful my job is. Just what I needed to climb out of this rut.

I hope to be back very soon with evidence of creative progress!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Thai fabric bag



Here's something I wrote Thursday. The weather is much more calm and dry today--I guess it's time to start cleaning up!

So it took the power going out before I finally returned to blogging. I've been busy, enjoying the summer, doing lots of things worth blogging about, but just never finding the time or energy to actually do it. But with an unexpected day off work (because of tropical storm Fay), and not much else to do, I've found my way back (well, at least until my laptop's battery runs out!)


It took me forever to finish this bag made from the fabric my former student brought me from Thailand (thank you, Paysie!), but I finally had a few got-to-sew mornings-- waking up with a plan of how to attack the zipper or strap. Does that ever happen to you--you kind of figure out the logistics of a project in your sleep and wake up knowing exactly how to make it work? I love it. I wanted this bag to be perfect, so I really took my time and did it right. I even learned how to install a welt pocket. Here's the tutorial I used.

The real push was finishing the bag while it's still summer, and I did. Now I'm starting to think about a more fall-ish type project since that's probably when I'll get around to finishing it. Man, I could have really made some progress today if my sewing machine didn't need electricity!

I was able to do some sewing yesterday--we had power all day. What a luxury! I'll be back soon with more of what I've been working on.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

blueberry cheesecake ice cream


So far, this summer has been full of real food: fresh veggies and fruit, homemade bread and pizza crust, farm fresh cheeses, and now, real ice cream. On a whim, we bought an ice cream maker last weekend, this cuisinart model that seems to be very popular. The first batch I made was chocolate cinnamon gelato--this recipe minus the toffee. And yesterday I made this blueberry cheesecake ice cream, from this Cooking Light recipe (halved, but with less than 3/4c sugar). The natural color of the blueberries is amazing, and the creaminess that the cream cheese adds is a nice first-bite surprise.

I first got really inspired by Jamie Oliver's new show Jamie at Home. Oh, he cracks me up! He makes cooking real food from scratch look so effortless. And it is so worth the time, and actually I spend less time shopping for food, and more time enjoying experimenting in the kitchen. Thank goodness I have a guy who doesn't mind doing dishes!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

new favorites


I ate a lot of those white bean and avocado club sandwiches after I discovered them, but now I'm on to a new favorite. Now, I'm quite picky about my sandwich bread--it has to be pretty substantial, so regular sliced bread doesn't work for me. I discovered new ciabattas on the bread aisle recently--not as good as fresh-baked, but really great toasted. The bread, spread with my pesto+mayo and filled with veggies makes an unbelievably delicious combination. This week, the veggies are zucchini (of course), bean sprouts, and asian cucumbers.


And my other new love--my birthday gift from E. I dropped some pretty big hints, but I'm still impressed that he got the exact style and color I wanted. It's made of navy blue super-soft glazed fabric, and it's from crystalyn kae, found through not martha.

Friday, July 18, 2008

staycationing


It's easy to get so busy we forget we live in such a wonderful place, but the last week has reminded me how lucky I am to live in Florida. We left our normal life 'in town' and spent a few days at the beach with both immediate and extended family. We joked that it was a staycation, but, really, it couldn't have been better anywhere else. The days were filled with bike rides and walks on the beach, board games and frisbee, and lots of good food.


It's been a hectic week of returning to work while family's still in town, working extra so that I could work from home today, and our school's annual river cruise last night, so I'm looking forward to a weekend with plenty of (quiet) time on the sewing machine. I'm glad I took reminder photos of my latest project so I can pick up where I left off!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

American made


On Thursday last week, our school had a 4th of July party, just for fun and to teach our students a little about American culture. We had a watermelon eating contest and then a sunflower seed spitting competition(watermelons are seedless now!).

We also had a 'best dressed in red, white, and blue' contest, so I came up with this 'costume' (that's what the students were calling their outfits). My good friend sewed this dress for me in her sewing class when we were in high school. I loved it sooo much back then, so it was fun to get to wear it again, even though it's a little too short to wear as a dress these days! Before I left for school, I asked E if my outfit looked too silly, and he said "You're wearing a table cloth... with ants all over it." I guess I got my answer:)

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

locally grown


Thank you so much for the squash ideas! It made me realize how many more ideas there are to try!

We've recently started eating a lot of arugula. We have been buying baby arugula and using it in place of spinach in pastas, salads, and on pizzas. I was so excited to find out that it would be included in our CSA share. Last week, we got a bunch of arugula, along with a recipe for arugula pesto--basically using arugula instead of basil. I used part of it to make a pizza (so tasty, I think it's time to invest in a pizza stone!). Before the pizza was baked, the pesto was so spicy--I finally understood why people always use 'peppery' to describe arugula's flavor. And after it baked, so good! I hope we get more this week.

Outside, my upside-down tomato set-up is doing a better job at growing basil (planted in the top of the bucket). That, along with another pot of basil will soon be made into traditional pesto.

The basil, 2 tomatoes, and 2 green peppers are the extent of my garden victories so far this year. Of course, I'd love to have the 'problem' of growing so much I have to give it away, but I'm ecstatic about what (very) local produce we have been able to enjoy!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

food on my mind


It seems like all I think about these days is food. And there's a good reason for it: I'm having to rethink my whole approach to meal planning and grocery shopping. We got out first CSA delivery on Wednesday last week, and it has been a challenge to figure out how to use all the squash (all kinds!) we got, without ending up hating squash. I usually do my shopping on Sunday so that I'm ready for the whole week. I list all the meals we'll have Sunday to Thursday and buy everything I need. Now, though, I'm having to leave my menu a little more open-ended since I don't know what we'll get mid-week from the farm. This week, I'm guessing more squash.

Here are some meals I've come up with/recipes I've gathered to incorporate all the squash:
roasted zucchini and summer squash tossed with rigatoni, fresh tomatoes, and feta
grilled zucchini + summer squash + tilapia (thanks for the inspiration, mom and dad!)
zucchini skillet cakes
stuffed patty pan squash
spaghetti squash risotto

Any other ideas?

Needless to say, my blogging might be very food-focused for a while!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

salad with berries


This salad was actually a meal we ate last week, but I just found the photo, and the colors are so great. It tasted even better! At the table, we added goat cheese and an easy blackberry vinaigrette I've been making. It's 1 part vinegar, 1 part blackberry syrup, and 3 parts olive oil. Yum.

Thank you all for the nice comments on the lunch sack!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

lunch sack


I made this bag for one of my lunchmates, Mr. Peanutbutter Jelly, as he's known around the office, because that's what he eats everyday. It was a plan we discussed when he still had about 2 weeks' worth of brown paper bags left. When I wasn't done sewing in time, he carried his lunch in the plastic bags that the paper ones came in, and then finally in a grocery store plastic bag. So, I think he was glad to get his lunch bag delivery!


The design was very much inspired by the lunch bag I carry, made by Julie. Mr. PBJ's bag is a little bigger, though, and needed more to close it at the top, so I came up with the buttons on the sides. They work pretty well and give it a true lunch sack shape.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

farm fresh


Do you ever get so excited about something that you get way ahead of yourself in planning/dreaming? My brain is so full of ideas after visiting two different farms this weekend. I've got way too much to figure out--I can't believe I've got to go back to work tomorrow! I guess that gives me five days to decide exactly what's feasible and what will have to wait.


So the first farm was a pick-your-own blueberries operation. It was a picture perfect little farm. I keep meaning to plant my own blueberry bushes during the winter. It has to happen this year!


We picked 4 pounds, which should last a while. Can't wait to taste the blueberry pie. The first time I made this one, I deemed it 'the best thing I've ever made' and I still don't think it's been topped.

The other visit was for a bbq and tour of our CSA farm. It's run by a friendly couple--she's all about the animals--mostly goats and chickens--and he takes care of the veggies. If the CSA selections are like what we ate today, I'll be in heaven!


If I didn't have to work tomorrow, I might start ripping up the grass to farm the front and back yards:) So it's probably best that my enthusiasm has a work week to be reigned in.

Monday, June 2, 2008

print run


This weekend, E and I finally got the last of the supplies we needed to do our first mini print run of the design I created in photoshop. I like to think of this as my (mini) bolt of custom fabric. I think we're starting to grasp all the variables of screen printing. We've got more ink colors on the way, so it'll be fun to print another 'colorway':)


I'm still interested in uploading a design to be printed by spoonflower since they have the capability of doing multi-color prints. I wonder if anyone has used their service and received their custom fabric yet. I'll be interested to hear how it went.

Have a good week!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

tech success


A recent goal of mine has been to learn to create digital illustrations and patterns of my own. I love fabrics like these, and I feel so inspired to create something of my own. However, it's not easy! I'm using photoshop for the first time, and I'm realizing how hard it is to learn new technology. I get so frustrated, and when I finally do figure something out, I wish there was some way to 'save' the process in my brain, because I know I'm just going to forget it.


But I did make some headway this weekend after seeing that spoonflower has begun printing custom fabric. And I love all of Wendy's designs over at dozi. Have you seen her new shop? Truly inspiring. Anyway, I pushed myself to complete something that I was happy with, and this is it. At first I wanted it to be a large scale pattern, but tried it several different ways and ended up with this. I like how it turned out, but more importantly, I learn a lot about how to create shapes, and I gained some confidence in photoshop!

Now, on to try using some of my own pencil + paper drawings.

Friday, May 23, 2008

last two


These are the last two of my good-for-you triple chocolate cookies. They're an Ellie Krieger recipe, so it's easy to focus on the whole wheat flour and low butter content and forget that they're actually dessert. I've eaten waaay to many!

That shop update that I promised hasn't happened because I'm taking my bags to an event at a natural foods market this weekend. And they've offered to sell my bags in the store, too!

Happy weekend!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

mats and frames


I finally finished my tree print and photo matting project. I miss that tree everyday, but now I have a way to see and remember it. The prints are by Julie.


When we were in NY, one of the galleries at MoMA was full of pieces that used matting in such a graphic way (photo above) that I wanted to give it a try.


Here, I just cut some uneven boxes, but I'd like to try some different designs with patterned paper peeking out from behind. Before I do that, though, my first priority should be getting these off the ironing board and onto the wall!