Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Here is a beautiful post from Wish Jar Journal to get you all fired up about your handmade holidays.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Hey, wanna see a bunch of ribbons and trims that I sewed onto a vintage sheet:


Check it out! You like that? Well there's plenty more where that came from.

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Hidden Kitchen was magical. Here is super host (for whom I now have a little bit of a food crush) Dennis' recipe for Crema de Limoncello. Make sure to read the comments for instructions on how to make Limoncello as well, we tried some that had been aged for two years and diners commented that it tasted like drinking a flower.

Friday, November 16, 2007

snowflake before

Today's crafty progress, snowflake before and after.

snowflake after

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Recipes for the weekend (which starts for me tonight!):

Vegetarian Borsch
Oatmeal, Chocolate Chip and Pecan Cookies

balance is good

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

simon grooming jayne

To be honest, I'm surprised I've made it almost to the middle of the month before relying solely on kitties for the day's content. I'll just say it: they are sooo cute!!!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Happy things for the middle of the week:

1. Pj pants made out of bedsheets - brilliant! I especially like the wide legs and how it looks like she used the top hem of the sheet for a natural decorative cuff.'

2. Last night I lit the pilot light and turned on our heater all by myself. Now we can have heat whenever we feel like it.

3. Just signed up for Sacramento's Run to Feed the Hungry. I am super excited for this, such a wonderful way to spend a crisp Fall morning. p.s. we walk.

4. We have reservations at the Hidden Kitchen this weekend.

Monday, November 12, 2007

How have I never heard of Zafu before? This is incredible: you answer a bunch of questions on this website and then it tells you what jeans will fit you and how they will look. That picture up above is exactly how I want my jeans to look, and it's my number one match, The Sweetheart $30 at Old Navy. I ordered them and I'll report back if the fit recommendation is true or not. According to Zafu, here's how they are supposed to fit me in three key fit areas:

Waist: What makes this jean ultimately wearable is that it sits higher than most low rise jeans and will provide great coverage at the rear. There may be a teeny bit of snugness at the waistband.
Hip & thigh: This jean fits perfectly through the hip and the thigh and looks sexy. The stretch denim fabric skims close to carve out your curves without feeling tight.
Seat: You'll have a smooth fit across the seat without fitting too tight, and these jeans have the seat flattering angled pockets that brings out the well-formed curves of your butt.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

trees in progress
Works in progress for holiday fest 2007! I am simultaneously feeling like I've gotten a lot done and like I'll never be able to make it. These trees are really fun and will make a great display. The ones standing up are made from thrifted materials.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Fall is here! It's raining and pouring today and we've had two successful baking experiments:

Whole wheat beer bread - this is yummy, but it does include about a cup of white flour. I wanted to try it out pretty much as written before experimenting with all whole wheat. I didn't have bread flour so I just used all purpose instead. This was my first time making bread with the mixer instead of kneading and mixing by hand. Shockingly, it was much easier.

Apple-Walnut Cake - for over a month I've been looking for my ideal apple cake recipe, a search I've restarted from last Fall. This isn't it because my ideal apple cake recipe is more of a biscuit type cake with struesel on top. I mainly used this particular recipe because it looked so easy and I'm getting tired of putting so much energy into not finding the right recipe. One of the reviewers mentioned that the base is basically a blondie dough and they're right, but with a ton of apples it turns extra moist and fantastic. So good! While this is not my ideal, it is awesome in a completely different way.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Crafty work day today, I made a lot of progress but still nothing to show for it. I'm trying to realize economies of scale by doing a lot of one thing at at time, right now I'm doing a bunch of trees and dream pouches. I wonder if I will regret this plan when I am sewing in zipper after zipper. The best part about crafty work day is the view:
the view

Thursday, November 08, 2007

I really like these crazy stockings from Free People. They're a little bohemian yeti for me but a great jumping off point for making my own stockings, something I've been meaning to do.

I particularly enjoy the use of pom pom.

Two of my favorite things: cute husband, embroidered pillowcase. He really loves being photographed when he's still trying to sleep for the last ten minutes.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Alright, I suck at NaBloPoMo. This week has been ridiculous. We will have black bean pumpkin soup this weekend and put everything back together. To get through the next couple of days, let's check out some more etsy favorites:

Hobbledehoy - It's true love, I really love this shop with hand dyed and handspun yarns. These are the kind of yarns I would make if I'd ever learned how to spin (sorry Mom!). The gal has been promising a large update in the next couple of days so I've been obsessively checking. Oh, and the prices are really reasonable for artisan handspun.

Monday, November 05, 2007

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Hee! This is a little onesie I made especially for a little baby that was born too far away. Hopefully this message will sink in and her parents will move closer immediately!
Just a few days in and I've already fallen off the NaBloPoMo waggon! Yesterday was crazy: new babies were snuggled, gigantical life decisions were made, tears were shed, cuddles were shared. Big deal stuff that drives blogging right out of your brain, even when you do have an extra hour. Let's just pretend this never happened.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

apartment kitchen

This is what the kitchen looked like earlier this afternoon as I waited for my sugar to caramelize to make this tart, a tryout for Thanksgiving.
It was very good but I drastically underestimated the amount of slivered almonds we had in the freezer. I subbed pistachios for most of the almonds and they were alright but the crisper almonds would've been a nicer texture with the soft caramel and cranberries.

I came home to the November Anthropologie catalog with these:

Both versions of an idea I've had on my mind for about a year now: make clothes with quilts. I think either a nice fitted jacket (maybe mandarin collar?) or comfy robe would be great candidates. For the jacket, obviously fit is a major concern, but for both the seam finishing would be crucial for a nice garment. Either a lining or maybe just trim the seam allowances and finish with binding or twill tape? Will have to think about it for next year.

Friday, November 02, 2007

As you can see, I've taken the pledge! This holiday season I am not only trying to make handmade things for other people to give as gifts, I'm also making sure all of the gifts from me are handmade too (well mostly, there are a couple of useful items already planned out that are not handmade, but sshh!). I've done a lot of embroidery so far and a little jam making. I'll also be doing a lot of etsy shopping (as per usual, ahem). The one thing I will not be doing this year is buying random industrially produced crap for those people on my list who are a little difficult to shop for. Also, I think it's pretty universally agreed that good books count as handmade since the author put so much of him or herself into the finished product.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

By way of starting back up again here, I will be participating in the dreaded NaBloPoMo. At the same time I will be preparing to participate in these two craft fairs:

Charr's show!

To start getting in the mood for handmade holiday purchases, here are a couple of my favorite etsy stores:

Rhymes with Luck - gorgeous jewelry with a vintage feeling, made by a very creative friend of my family.

1AEON - natural fantasy inspired hand silk-screened t-shirts. I started trolling this shop to find gifts for my husband (Mr. Fantasy!) but ended up getting a t-shirt for myself as well. The shirts themselves are beautiful and soft and the designs are incredible, really nice vendor to work with as well if you do a custom order.

Hottoffee - fused glass jewelry. I own 3 or 4 pairs of these earrings and wear them all the time. They are beautifully made and simple but the layers of glass make them so special. Also the dangley earrings are held onto the hook with a little piece of metal in the shape of a heart and one is imprinted with the word "you" and one with "me." How cute is that!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Do you have trouble with buttons? I do. I really like them and frequently think they would be just the thing to add some texture and an interesting shape to a lot of things. But then when I get out the button tin (just go on ebay and buy one they come already assembled courtesy of someone else's sweet grandma) then I start thinking: is this too kitschy? is it going to look unbearably Shabby Chic? This is a problem I have.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

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This is a little project that I had some fun with for Thad's birthday. He needed a water bottle for his new work/fitness situation so when I saw these stainless steel bottles on Angry Chicken I knew they would be perfect: Thad has a thing for metal. But I was worried about how hot or cold liquids would feel in a stainless steel container so I decided to do a little protective sleeve thing to fancy it up, also to make a water bottle more exciting as a birthday present.

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I've been buying silkscreened patches on etsy to use for little decorations and this is one of those, it looks dragonish and of course I had to add my two cents by writing "love" on it. I did manage to refrain from using my girly handwriting and I'm sure Thad is thankful for that.

Monday, September 24, 2007

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It's funny how things work. When I was 13 years old I took a quilting class with my mom, neither of us had ever quilted before but it sounded neat and was something my great grandmother had done so my mom had some sentimental attachment. I made an 18" square that took me about six months (maybe a year!), and vowed never to handquilt again because six months for one square did not seem like a good deal to me. Fast forward to now: by way of embroidery I've started using a running stitch to decorate my quilted items because I love the texture: this running stitch is also known as hand quilting.

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Monday, September 10, 2007

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Inspiration today:

1. This beautiful and comfortable looking home on designsponge.

2. A couple last pictures of summer at the beach.

3. Love the Alexander Henry print quilt in this new book.

4. I hope this is about my new house, wherever it may be:
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Continuing my love affair with the wonderful world of embroidery, I've been embroidering a few sets of pillowcases, many of which are destined to be gifts. This handwork has been very comforting to me because it is so portable and there are very few decisions to be made if you are following a pattern like this. My one big rule with these sets is that I must work both pillowcases at the same time so I don't end up dreading the second pillowcases (knitters see also second sock syndrome).

This one will be for us and is a blend of Sublime Stitching and Aunt Martha's patterns. It's mate has a unicorn in place of the birds and etc. Guess which one Thad wants to use?
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Friday, September 07, 2007

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My move was pretty disruptive but we are starting to settle into apartment living now so I can show you what I've been up to, trying to keep sane. These are a couple of sets of booties that I've been fiddling with using Heather Bailey's pattern. These are for a little Christmas project I've been thinking about which is where my love of pure wool in August comes from.
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Both pairs are made from thrifted all wool or lambswool sweaters that go in the washing machine on hot. I also got a pair of lime green (!) Calvin Klein jeans that are turning into cute cotton versions.

Friday, August 31, 2007

I asked Joel how he answers the charge that because food like his is more expensive, it is inherently elitist. “I don’t accept the premise,” he replied. “First off, those weren’t any ‘elitists’ you met on the farm this morning. We sell to all kinds of people. Second, whenever I hear people say clean food is expensive, I tell them it’s actually the cheapest food you can buy. That always gets their attention. Then I explain that, with our food, all of the costs are figured into the price. Society is not bearing the cost of water pollution, of antibiotic resistance, of food-borne illnesses, of crop subsidies, of subsidized oil and water—of all the hidden costs to the environment and the taxpayer that make cheap food seem cheap. No thinking person will tell you they don’t care about all that. I tell them the choice is simple: You can buy honestly priced food or you can buy irresponsibly priced food.”

from Michael Pollan, of course

Friday, July 27, 2007

This weekend's menu (the first chance I've had to cook in over a month!):

chocolate zucchini cupcakes
, talk about delicious!
Zelda's Pizza
summer fruit from the farmer's market - peaches, heirloom melons
mushrooms over polenta, the mushroom part based on this method criminis work just fine

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Hello! I am moving this weekend so I plan to have a little more to say in about a week. Since we are moving and incurring the attendant stress, cocktails have developed a position of extreme importance in my daily routine.

I finally came up with a very easy way to make mojitos. It takes some prep but then you can make mojitos any time in only a couple minutes. I'm sorry that we are moving now that I've developed my method since it works better if you have your own mint growing on the premises. Here are the prep steps:

1. Get a bunch of limes and juice them. We have a citrus juicer attachment for my mixer so whenever limes go on sale I buy like 30-50 of them and then freeze the juice in ice cube trays. I make Thaddy help with the juicing.

2. Make simple syrup. Just dissolve a cup of sugar in a cup of water and keep it in a pour container in the fridge. We use one of those bottles people keep for olive oil with the pour spout on top. This is actually super easy to do in the microwave but they never tell you that.

Then whenever we want to have mojitos I just mash up a couple of the lime ice cubes with the mint then add the simple syrup, rum, ice, and fill up with soda water. The lime juice does not freeze super solid so they are easy to mash up with a fork right out of the freezer.

Also, this makes it easy to make a bunch of mojitos for a party. Just put the lime, mint, syrup, and rum in a big pitcher in the same ratio that tastes good for one glass. Then people can fill up glasses with ice and use about half the mix with about half soda water.

Here is the ratio I use for one mojito: 1.5 lime cubes (this is variable because it depends on your ice cube try, mine makes smallish cubes), about 10 mint leaves, 1 oz. simple syrup, 1.5 oz rum (shot glass). Add ice and about an equal amount of club soda.

Happy mojito summer!

Along similar lines, check out this Basil Lemonade on Orangette.

Edited to add: since the move, I've been making this same cocktail with the lemon basil combination instead of lime and mint. It's also very delicious and just as refreshing. Lemons are easier to juice so this is easier to put together when you are exhausted from moving a bunch of boxes.

Monday, July 02, 2007

I love this system for organizing recipes in a moleskine, featured at Delicious Days. I'm a fan of the handwritten cookbook, but my current blank book is quickly getting difficult to search now that several pages have been completed. This way is still very personal but organized.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

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These are some hand dyed pieces of cotton lawn drying in the backyard. They are so soft and ethereal in person. This may not be our backyard for much longer so I wanted to capture a little bit of it to take with us.
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This is a pillow top I put together with some scraps one evening when I needed a little inspiration. This is about to be part of a larger whole, I am putting together a collection of handmade things incorporating my handdyed fabrics and embroidery.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

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Baby Jayne Cobb Dietzen, adopted 5/25/2007. He is the best little kitten and we feel so lucky to have him as part of our family.

Friday, June 01, 2007

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This is the complete gift set I made for my sister-in-law who is having a girl. I used Angry Chicken's instructions to make matching onesies to go with the quilt. These were super easy with the fancy stitch on my new machine. I am inordinantly proud of the whole set.

I used more of my pink hand dyed fabric for this one. This time I divided up the cut squares into a light pile and a dark pile to make two different colored stripes that look like they are actually different fabrics. It's a pretty cool effect that I will use again on future projects, maybe to get an ombre type effect.

Here's a shot that shows the embroidery and the Beatrix Potter fabric I used for the back, the pink toile is also Beatrix Potter. I'm not usually one for licensed character fabric, but this stuff is adorable.
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Click here for a rather dubious shot of the whole finished quilt and here for a closeup of the squirrel appliqued onesie which features a Fussy Cut. Hee, that's really what it's called when you cut out a certain part of the fabric design on purpose.

Actually all of this photography is terrible but I wanted to make sure I had some pictures before this is gone forever at the shower tomorrow.

Friday, May 25, 2007

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Here are two quilts I've been working on for my two sisters-in-law who are both pregnant. I hope they like them, neither of them have been exposed that much to my quilting.
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Monday, May 14, 2007

Did you know that Ann Patchett writes on the Gourmet blog? When worlds collide! If you haven't read every single one of her books, go to the library right now. I'll wait.

via Smitten Kitchen, my current food blog crush

Monday, April 30, 2007

Plenty of celebrating this weekend, but no pictures. Thaddy got a new job and we celebrated with a bottle of champagne we'd been saving for over a year and indian food. We also got to meet a friend's new three day old baby and help fix up a nursery for another baby on the way. I sandwiched the embroidered quilt and finished most of the quilting. Above all, we ate plenty of in-season strawberries with whipped cream.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

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Here are two kitties playing on the results of a big dye party I had recently with the lovely Charrmer. I did two more of these big pieces and then a few small, one yard, pieces as well.
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I think this blue and green one looks like a contour map.
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This red one is the best of the small pieces, the other two turned out like just nice blue tonal pieces that I'm sure I'll use, but nothing special. I can't believe it but I bought 25 yards of the fabric I've been using to dye on and it is all gone now. No idea how that could've happened.

Monday, April 23, 2007

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Here's another picture of my adventures in the wonderful world of embroidery! Since I still haven't gotten the iron-on patterns I ordered, I drew these birds based on images of Ms. Hart's patterns that appeared in Adorn. My college contour drawing came right back.

Friday, April 20, 2007

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Last night I discovered the wonderful world of embroidery. I am embroidering decorations on the quilt top from my last post. So far just words and hearts but I ordered some of these so whenever they come we will see even more exciting embroidery.
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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

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Here's an in-progress shot of the "whole cloth" quilt I am making with my self-dyed piece of pink fabric. I put the "whole cloth" in quotation marks because, as you can see here, I actually pieced the top. But I pieced it so that as much of the original design is preserved as possible except for little bits that went into the seams.
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Here's another shot that shows this cool hot air balloon fabric that I think is perfect for the intended recipient of this quilt. I have no idea where I got this fabric, I only had a little piece. So if you gave it to me, thank you!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

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This is a skirt I made by altering a pencil skirt type pattern to be more of an a-line. Again, I think we are seeing a pattern in the bulky and shapeless department. I actually do have a nice figure, but you'll have to take my word for now. The trim does look cute with the grey corduroy though and check out my shoes, they are really cute and have great arch support. I think this skirt would look better if I had started with more of a flared skirt and then scaled it in if it seemed too big. This is another one to file under great learning experience.

Monday, April 09, 2007

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I did a lot more dying this weekend. This is a large piece I dyed using a low water technique for a whole cloth quilt project I have in mind. I love how this looks although I had wanted more of the lighter pink and only a little bit of the fuschia color.
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This is a polka dot I made to use on some pillows. You can see that I didn't have time to finish the whole piece but I think I will have plenty for my project. Sometimes you have to go and taste wine instead of printing 100 more polka dots.

Monday, April 02, 2007

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Here's a picture of how the dye printing is going so far. There is a lot more yardage with all different patterns but this is a small section. I have 2 problems with this stuff: 1) I don't like how the patterns are turning out, and 2) the dye is bleeding and creating smudges even though I am washing it with synthrapol. Actually, I guess 3 problems total because I am also not thrilled with how unvibrant the images are.
My next idea is to do a base dye on the fabric then stamp on top. I won't be able to get the effects I was originally after but it would negate the smudge problem.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

I just got this book last night and boy is it beautiful. It's the most gorgeous book I've ever owned. In the Acknowledgements the author identifies the book's designer, Toni Tajima, especially. Now I know who I would ask for if I ever wrote a book. And of course I'd have to get Heidi Swanson to do the pictures, just beautiful.
I am working on another scrumble quilt! The process is very addictive and makes me wish I had a stand-up sewing station as I race between the triangle points: ironing board, sewing machine, scrap bin. Maybe I can count this as exercise to get down and up from the sewing chair so many times? New rules for these scrumbles, since there must always be rules.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

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This is a baby quilt I made for my friend Keirsten's second baby. It needed to be a little fancier than my usual because I had tried paper piecing (my first and only attempt, turns out I hate paper piecing!) for her first baby's quilt and I didn't want the second baby to feel slighted if I showed up with one of my now-standard, simple patterns. This top is made entirely from scraps: I just sewed one piece onto the first and so on to make what I was referring to as "scrumbles" in my head. I trimmed a little to put the scrumbles together but since the pieces were not uniform in size this was probably my most technically challenging quilt to date. And of course my scrap bin is still totally overflowing, this quilt did not make the slightest dent.
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I had so much fun with these little felt appliques! Also, you can kind of see that I used my fancy new sewing machine with the embroidery stitches to handle an awkward set-in seam by just embroidering over the top around the marbled piece. And by the way, I made that marbled fabric myself when I got to do some marbeling one time with the fabulous Charrmer.

Monday, March 26, 2007

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These are the fruits of my weekend. I am experimenting more with my block printing which you can see here under its protective shower curtain. I sandwich it in these layers so it will not dry out during the curing period.
I also made this cuddly little envelope for a dear friend's birthday to hold her tiny little laptop that goes everywhere in her purse. The loop will have a button that it attaches to but I want to see how it fits before sewing the button on. I think the envelope reflects her best qualities because she is quite stylish but at the same time humbly down to earth. It's lined inside with the red and brown flower print.
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