Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Musical Crafting Inspiration:  "Naked" by Tracy Bonham and "Old Letters" by Company of Thieves
Three days off in a row always makes me more productive... and I like to think it makes me more creative.  I think I'd make an excellent "stay-at-home" partner.  Too bad I have to work and am thus crabby 3/4 of the time!  So, the weekend's creativity started in the kitchen... I've been a home-cooking machine.  I made homemade mac and cheese this week... yum.  And tried out the mustard greens that came in last week's box... learned something very important:  I hate mustard greens.  As a vegetarian, it pains me a little to dislike a green... they're ridiculously good for me and so versatile, but mustard greens are just not my cup of tea... so bitter.  Blech.  Anyway, they looked pretty cooking and on the plate, but my eyes and taste buds did not agree.  

Later in the week I made Japanese Vegetable Stew inspired by the daikon radish we got.  I learned something important again... Miso is apparently extremely difficult to track down at 7 p.m. on a Thursday.  Finally found it at my fourth store (Whole Foods, in case you're wondering or looking yourself)  and was able to whip out the delish veggie soup with a miso base.  I doubled the recipe, cause I like me some left over soup, but I would recommend that you cut down on the sesame oil, as it was extremely potent, masking the miso flavor somewhat.  I also added a turnip to the recipe and used bok choy instead of the napa cabbage, just on preference.  My last tip would be to only throw in enough pea pods for the first serving and to throw them in for only about 1-2 minutes, as I let mine cook with the rest of the soup, and they got extremely mushy and slimy... gross.  I ended up picking them all out when I went to put the leftovers in the fridge.  Otherwise... really tasty.  I was a little leery of the use of sweet potato in a veg soup, with that much saltiness, but it was probably my favorite part... though the turnip was also an excellent idea on my part.  You could probably substitute the turnip for the Daikon if you can't find it at the store.  

Now, on to the craftiness.  I'm working my butt off to stay ahead of the impending holidays.  So far, I feel like I'm winning.  I have 7 people crossed off the list of 30.  Yay!  So, I was on a sewing kick these last few days and here are the results:   

This is my first attempt at a sewn scarf.  I'm all about the knitted scarves, but I have so much random "end piece" fabric and remnants left over from other projects that are not really big enough to do much with, aside from quilting them, and we know that I'm not the world's best quilter.  :)  So, the remnant scarf.  I've seen these all over on crafting sites and in crafting magazines, so I took a shot.  It turns out that I have a lot of red, black, and white fabric with some yellow accents.  Handy how the color scheme just worked itself out!  Anyway, here I am modelling the lovely scarf.  I fortunately had enough black fleece left over from a previous project that I could do the backing as well.  Yay!

This is my mama's bag.  It's purple corduroy and the fabric circles are appliqued.  I'm slightly addicted to applique, particularly after I learned the "dryer sheet method."  The liner is the same wild fabric of the applique circles.  I actually bought the remnant thinking it looked like something my mom would like, but had no use for it, but I think it goes perfectly with the purple corduroy and it's a sneaky wild side to this bag. 

This is the "wildcard bag."  I have so many things I'm doing for holiday gifts, that my list got a little unruly, so I just started writing "bag, hat, scarf, etc." by all the names I'm quickly adding.  It's a bit daunting, but I feel like it's going better than years past attempts.  Anyway, this bag looked a little "French inspired" so I added the words in fabric paint.  I printed off a font I liked and free-handed the lettering.  I think it turned out well, actually.  If you end up getting this bag for Christmas it's because I think you're exotic and sophisticated, not because I couldn't think of what else to make for you :)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Knitting Together

So much has happened over the last week... I'm at the point where I need to pick and choose, and ultimately, I choose crafts over food.  So, while the spinach, garlic and yellow cherry tomato pizza we made earlier this week was fantastic, what really feeds me lately are the needles and yarn that yield product in the end.  

I realized that I needed to make a list of who will be receiving what for the holiday season this year.  It's going to be an extremely low-key holiday for us, as I work directly before and after Christmas, so much of our gift giving will happen long-distance.  With that and the possibly self-flagellating decision to include the option of an "original knitted piece" by me as an award for our employees of the month at work, I have discovered possibly the most amazing knitting pattern ever.  And I feel some definite satisfaction in that I took a failed pattern, changed it, fixed it, altered it to meet my needs, and created what I think is hatly brilliance.  With that, I introduce "Violet."  (By the way, I really could use some new knitwear models... any volunteers?)

The official name of this lovely hat comes from the lovely Violet who was the first employee of the month for my department.  And the reasons I love it are:  chunky yarn, chunky needles, and cables.  It looks fancy, but isn't.  Amazing.  And, now, onto  my more heartwarming and exciting story. 

I have finished the zig-zag scarf!  And the completion of this most perfect scarf coincided with the most fantastic knitting meeting I've yet experienced.  I met her on the train.  She was maybe 75 or 80, Swiss, lovely.  She was watching me knit and when I noticed, she shared that she used to knit when she was younger.  We struck up a wonderful conversation and chatted the whole ride home... I almost missed my stop, actually.  And in the end, she asked if she could give me some mohair she's had for years, as she can no longer knit, and she wanted me to have it.  I'm hoping for a call, as I quickly ripped out a page of my notebook and scribbled my number on it. 

And now, the scarf I was completing as we shared this moment of knitterly communion:  

Again, I request some new models... it's slightly embarrassing to continue taking pictures of myself... 

And a close-up:

More to come on the intended Asian vegetable soup and mustard greens with cornbread that are planned for the menu this week.  

Thursday, October 8, 2009


Last week's produce box had fewer "unfamiliar" food friends in it, so much of the cooking was life as usual.  There were some fantastic heirloom tomatoes, including a giant yellow one.  Mmm.  I used that one on a delish egg salad sandwich on homemade oatmeal bread.  And the pineapple made it's way into several different meals.  Also fabulous.  But I was a little perplexed about what to do with the cabbage.  I'm not a huge cabbage fan and Paul down right dislikes it.  So, I was scouring the cookbooks for some cabbage recipes.  There was one that I found that was intriguing.  Potato vegetable curry.  We got two gorgeous purple potatoes, and it just needed some sweet potatoes and coconut milk.  So, tonight I finally got the rest of the ingredients and made the curry tonight.  Mostly a success.  It definitely needed more coconut milk for the amount of vegetables that were in it and I need to figure out how to make it spicier next time.  But the potatoes were delicious and the sweet potato in the curry was amazing... I definitely will try it again, but with more coconut milk and maybe some red pepper flakes or a jalepeno.  Any suggestions?  

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Great Pumpkin Experiment

I have a secret... a shameful and embarrassing secret.  It's about an addiction... sometimes denied, always satisfying.  I'm addicted to craft magazines.  The really cheesy holiday ones are best.  Particularly Halloween and Christmas.  I love them, buy them voraciously, squirrel them away for reference the following year.  But I always buy new... to compare, you know.  

Well, it seems this halloween has a bit of a craft magazine trend... gothic, romantic, turn-of the century, wonderful.  I love it.  All of it.  The costumes are historical, the decor is old fashioned, and the pumpkins, well, they're black and covered in glitter.  I can do that, I think to myself as I see the adds for $40 glitter-covered pumpkins from Pottery Barn.  So, I hit the Dollar Tree... my favorite source for craft goodies.  Shameful, again, I know.  Whatever.  I don't judge your dirty little secrets.  Here is an example of the crappy, foam-core pumpkin "decor" I found... 

Buck a piece, friends.  Damn good buy, I'd say.  But only for experimenting with black paint and glitter!  Otherwise, waste of money and crap-tastic looking on your table.  So, we begin:  

I painted them first with a layer of Black acrylic paint...  

I missed a step, but once they were completely painted black, I painted over with a layer of black craft paint with glitter in it... some weird decorative paint I got last Christmas when I was making decorations for my tree... it's hard to find black Christmas decorations.  I'm a little bit dark, even when it's not Halloween.  

Once the black paint dried, I mod podged the heck out of 'em and covered them with black glitter.  In case you were wondering, I found the big jar of black glitter at Hancock Fabrics.  It was pretty great, I have to admit.  Or maybe it was the wine...
Nope... it was the glitter.  Close-up shot.  Pretty!  Two of the pumpkins got this treatment, and then two of them got a nice treatment with the silver puffy paint.  I haven't used the puffy paint in a LONG time (I think since last Christmas helping out a co-worker with stockings for her and her hubby) so I made a couple of splatters, but I was able to cover them up... the second one I did turned out better... 
Here's one of each kind... the sparkly one (which you can't really see with the camera) and the first "viney" puff painted one.  I think they look really awesome.  

And here they are in their current resting place... the trifle bowl filled with pebbles, next to the armadillo.  I think it says a little something about my mental stability.  You can see the second puff-painted one in the bowl... it has little dots that look like they're dripping from the top of the punkin'.  

So that's the latest experiment.  I might need a break until Sunday.  But there will be more food-related goodness posted at that time, so stay tuned for my culinary feats and fiascos as well as what are sure to be more and more crazy craft-magazine inspired and plain-old random projects.