Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Crafting Inspiration Songs of the day:  "Lay Me Down" by The Frames and "Acoustic Guitar" by the Magnetic Fields

So three days off in a row is a regular luxury for me, which means... craftstravaganza takes over the house.  Poor Paul has to come home to a crazy woman who has lost her mind to the lure of fabric and the hum of the sewing machine!  But I've been ridiculously productive, so here's an overview of the great crafts I've made over the last two days.  

The monster bib:  Monster bib was made for Prego Friend #2, as she is a kooky, tattoo-artist, loving all things video game, monster-y, and goofy lady.  Baby will look adorable in the cute little monster friend, and maybe the drool will end up on the bib instead of the baby! (or the super cute clothes I've given him so far... seriously, people, I go crazy with buying baby things)

The girly-quilt:  Girly quilt was created for Prego Friend #1 who is expecting a little lady this winter.  It's made of cotton flannel, and I was excited to find a remnant of organic soy batting to make it nice and fluffy and warm as well as better for baby's health, avoiding the lovely toxins present in so many textiles.  I free-formed the "blocks" of solid color on the back, making a kind of tetris-y pattern that I ended up loving.  I was especially excited about how well it came out due to it only being my second attempt at quilting!  The "quilted" part is pretty simple-- I just followed the lines of the fabric blocks with a zig-zag stitch.  This was decided after several failed attempts at curved-line quilting!  

The froggie gown:  Here is the finished product of the froggie gown with the successful stamp.  Seriously, everyone I know is reproducing, so I'm in full gear with baby-item production.  I usually hit up the thrift store for items in good shape that are just in need of some love.  This gown was a gross barely-blue with some staining around the collar.  I gave it a dye-bath in black, but it turned out this nice charcoal-y gray.  Then came the little stamped friend!  I'm getting pretty good with the rubber block stamps.  It was an evolution from the stenciling so that I could have a re-produceable product.  I have all kinds of ideas in mind for this little friend!  

Suzanne's Bag:  This is a bag made specifically for a woman I work with.  I've made quite a few little bags for myself and for friends, and when she saw them, she immediately asked me for a "horse bag."  Okay, I don't do horses.  I don't draw them, I don't ride them, and I don't particularly get along with them.  But I love Suzanne, so I went on the search for the perfect horse fabric... it sounds weird, and led to weird things.  There's some seriously ugly horse fabric out there, my friends!  But I  stumbled across this nice brown corduroy with embroidered horses on it, which was by far the least distressing fabric I had found, so I brought it home.  I had the liner fabric already, left over from making children's dress-up clothes for work, and it had that "western" feel, so I went with it.  Even though I'm not a horse fan, I'm a fan of this bag, and I hope Suzanne will love it.  I'll find out tomorrow!   (And no comment's on my modeling skills!)


My next installment will be "the great pumpkin experiment" where I take crappy, fake, dollar-store pumpkin "decor" and paint it, glitter it, and hopefully turn it into a fabulous halloween centerpiece... cross your fingers, people.  Sarah's playing with glitter, and that's always a risky endeavor!  

Sunday, September 27, 2009

First Steps

This is a new beginning.  An attempt for me to work through my working through, so to speak.  I've struggled with the writing down of what it is I'm working on, and this is an attempt for me to universally track all my endeavors and to look at the ways I can try to more fully enjoy the simple moments of my days.  Starting today...

Yesterday was the first delivery of my produce box from Newleaf Grocery.  It's an organization devoted to finding and providing local and organic produce to the city of Chicago.  Lovely.  I'm attempting to be more and more of a locovore, and since my work schedule doesn't lend itself nicely to me attending farmer's markets in the area, I thought this would be a good way to get some diverse and local produce.  It also means I don't have a choice in what arrives at my door, so I'm forced to be creative and learn to cook with new things.  So in the box was the following:  apples, pears, kiwi, bananas and galia melon.  Mmm.  Zucchini, broccoli, onions, radishes, kale, turnip greens... okay, slightly more intimidating!  I've never made kale or turnip greens, and I'm not a huge radish fan, so it was a little scarier seeing the veggies inhabiting the fridge.  But the goal of this was to break out of my comfort zone, so this was a good chance for me.  So, last night, I used some of the broccoli and used up most of what produce I had left in the fridge from the previous trip to the store and the zucchini was easy... sauteed that up with some onion, pepper, and mushroom and plopped it on top of some pesto tortellini.  Not much outside of the comfort zone there.  But I was determined to use that kale for something first, so I hopped on-line and found a recipe for Kale, Cannellini, and Potato soup.

So after a quick trip to the store (we did need to go anyway, so it wasn't totally a new trip) for some cannellini beans, fingerling Russian potatoes, and carrots, I was good to go.  I pretty much followed the recipe, but because of the fingerling potatoes, I doubled the number, since they're about half a normal-sized potato.  I eliminated the sage and used dried rosemary and thyme.  I also used the seeds from a dried cayenne pepper we grew last season instead of the seeded red chile pepper.  I also used vegetable broth and a half-cup red wine, instead of the white, as I didn't have any white wine in the house.  When that went in, I freaked out a little, as the winey smell the soup was giving off was a little disconcerting.  I thought I may have ruined it, but in the end, it was delicious!  Paul used up some ciabatta bread we had and made home-made croutons to put in the soup, which added another layer of yummy texture.  It was amazing, and I was really proud of myself for taming the kale.  I was a little annoyed with the "deveining" of the leaves, as the stem of each leaf is thick and mealy.  But it needed to be chopped up, anyway, so I treated it a bit like I would treat fresh herbs, rolling and cutting the leaves with scissors.  This method worked quite well, I must admit.  

I also finished a new stamp block carving of a little frog and tested it out on paper.  Really cute.  So I tried it out on a bunting I had dyed grey, but unfortunately the paint color was just too light, so I'll have to rinse it out and try a darker color.  It may provide some nice "shadow" effect if the paint doesn't all wash out.  But either way, it will be much cuter than the plain dingy blue of the bunting before it was "doctored" to give to pregnant friend number 1 or 2.  

And finally, the main craft of the time being continues.  I'm working on a wavy ribbed scarf pattern... one of the free ones from the craft store that suggested a fisherman wool.  Instead, I'm using a soft brown merino wool from Frog Tree yarns, which is a company devoted to fair trade wool products.  It's the worsted merino, #118.  I'm slightly addicted to this scarf, and am afraid I will chicken out on giving it away to the intended recipient when the time comes.  Here's hoping I'll be able to part with it's lovely, wavy, wooly, soft goodness!  

So, the experiment trudges on.  I'll be doing some organizing and more cooking tomorrow... hopefully conquering the dreaded radish and finishing off the baby quilt for pregnant friend number 1.  I also have a baby bib to work on, and, of course, the continued addiction of the wavy ribbed beauty!