Thursday, December 23, 2010

See You Next Year

Finishing up very last-minute gift sewing and waiting for my ride north. Thought I'd post a few pics of what's been going on around here. Some of these were started months ago, some were made in the last few hours (well, hello, scented hand warmers tutorial). I now have a stack of blueberry-scented and a stack of eucalyptus-scented hand warmers to hand out in addition to the cedar-filled sachets I made last month. There are a few things that I won't make until I get there; brother's boxers and sisters apron namely. I want to make sure I'm making the boxers the right size and the apron just because I'm very tired and don't want to mess it up.  My Wednesday was spent hand sewing a couple cute things, tying in loose ends on crochet, and going over my packing list repeatedly between watching episodes of season 3 of Lost on Netflix. I need a shower and to pack a few stragglers into boxes before my ride gets here. Here's to a safe and warm holiday break and I'll meet you here in the new calendar year.

The Awesome-est 3yo Ever worked on painting this piece of cream satin for better than 2 months. I tied it off with a funky green knit fabric as a batting, bound it with plain muslin bias tape and now it's a quilt. I love my Jacquard textile inks. They're a really awesome way to turn everyday play and painting into something different and a lot more permanent than paper paintings. Mom and I helped out on occasion. Hey, who doesn't love playing with colors and brushes and stamps occasionally? 

Mom's pillowcases came out wonderfully and I also figured out the jellyfish attachment problem. Not sure yet exactly who gets the brooch; I think I want Dad to have it, but I'm shy one Gramma-worthy gift as of this moment. We'll see.

This piece went off to its new home in Holland, MI where it is being displayed beautifully stretched on a canvas in a customer's home. I had never considered displaying any of my fabrics as art in and of themselves before, but the pic she sent with the feedback has me rethinking the concept.

This last one is just for my own entertainment, really. See, the eaves of the house do not drain properly and birds come to drink out of them after rain/snow. If I'm cautious about it in the morning, I can open the door stealthily enough that I don't scare them all away and then my reward is getting to watch fluffy bird butts bob all along my gutters. Ya, I already know I'm weird, it's ok. It makes me happy. :)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Tuesday love Links: Holiday Printables

Mori gift tag from Chubby Hobby
Birdie gift tags from Ann Wood (love her little birdie sculptures)*
Pretty pastel gift tags from Little Paper Dog
I like these winter-related printables from teAch-nology (there's lots and lots of other subjects available, too)
Gift wrap, gift tags, Victorian Santa Christmas cards and printable lists from All Things Christmas *
Very pretty gift tags from Going Home to Roost (these are what I'm using this year)
Also Stag Noel printable cards and several printable gift wraps from Going Home to Roost
Gift tags and last minute DIY gift ideas from Crafting a Green World
Birds and squirrels gift tags (cute with a slight bit of creepy) from Andrea Zuill (I'd be using these if I didn't have the others all printed and cut out already) *
More pretty gift tags from Design Sponge

* = denotes pictured in mosaic above

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Giveaway Winners and FNSI Results

Giveaway winners have been selected via Random Number Generator.

Congratulations to mamafox for winning the toy pattern! She has a wonderful sewing and vintage site that I've been enjoying this afternoon over at Sadie Fox. Go check her out!

Congratulations to nanaandpapa1 for winning the fat quarter dyed fabrics! She also has a wonderful blog full of sewing and quilt-y goodness over at Camp Nana that I have been gawking at today. I especially love the colors and contrast in this Sunset & Shadows one.

Congratulations, ladies! I will be sending out emails requesting postal addresses shortly so I can get them shipped out before I leave in a few days.

Last night was another Friday Night Sew In. I made several brooches and a couple of hair pins for gifts. I decided to make my sis an apron from a completely different pattern than I had previously planned, and I got some pillow cases cut out for Mom (they're not sewn yet, the main part is in an onion skin dye pot as I type) as well as spent a lot of time claying and jewelry making.

Flower brooches and hairpins for sis. The rectangle one at top left isn't one for her. It's an experiment and I'm puzzling out how to make and attach a jellyfish or three to it. The apron pattern (here's the PDF link) I settled on to go with these for the gift is a reversible half-apron from Celebrate Mag that I got to from Going Home to Roost. It has far fewer bits and pieces to cut out than those in the pattern I bought.

Commercial cotton print (tiny black polka dots and what looks like boxes to me) soaking in a hot and steamy dye pot.I have it folded up on itself and tied in three places with twine in hopes of getting s tie-dye effect, but I couldn't get the jute twine to tie exceptionally tight so we'll see in about an hour.

How cute are these hens!? I got them at JoAnn's when we took a sojourn to the location in Nashville a while back and they were in the red tag fabrics. This is the accent fabric to go with what's in the dye pot right now for Mom's pillow cases. I may give the chickens a quick dunk in the dye pot to even out the tones between the two fabrics, but I haven't decided yet.

There was also a lot of this going on last night. Not sewing, I know, but there's still some jewelry ideas bumping around up in my noggin needing to get out and come to life. I'm not entirely happy about the feather impressions I got running a feather through the pasta machine with my clay slabs, but I'm not entirely unhappy about them, either. I'm thinking I need to paint over the feather before I remove it from the slab and that may help with definition. Then again it might not and this may not be a technique that is very well suited to polymer clay. I'll try it next time and see.

Friday, December 17, 2010

I Like Lists

Making a list and checking things off of it makes me feel accomplished. And I keep lists for virtually everything, not just groceries and packing for trips.
Some list titles from this year include: Things to Clean around the House (this one get remade and reordered frequently despite never getting everything on it crossed off before its next incarnation), Things and Stuff I Want to Dye Other Things and Stuff With, Gifts I Need to Make and/or Mail to People (I'm kinda horribly about mailing things on time, especially if I'm the only one who knows it's supposed to be mailed. It's something I'm working on.), How I Want to Rearrange the *insert room of the month here* For Better Use and/or Easier Maintainability, As Many Jewelry-type Things I Can Think of in 10 Minutes to Make Out of Sticks and Rocks, Healing Gear Upgrades from Heroics, Things I Could Make for the Shop, Furniture-type Things I Want to Make out of Sticks and Branches So I Don't Have to Buy Them From the Store, Delicious Things to Cook and/or Bake Right Now, Stuff I Want to Blog About, Things and Stuff I Want to Learn How to Do and Make, My Wardrobe (in which I listed every piece of clothing I have and decided I needed to simultaneously downsize and get more of certain kinds of items, namely bloomers, pretty skirts, tights and nice blouses), etc.

See, I told you, lists for virtually everything. However, I haven't made a list to reference for this year's holiday gifts as yet. I know there's only like a week left or something like that, but keeping up with the list in my head is beginning to make me a bit mental recently, and overly scatterbrained from not wanting to forget anything. So here is another list, immortalized on teh interwebs so I can cross things off of it and not forget anything when it comes time to head back to Michigan in a few days or so. If you're reading this and one of the gifts is for you, well, too bad, I'm not so good at the secret keeping and it isn't like you couldn't figure it out anyway since I've probably told everyone but you what I'm making for you and most of them are not good at the secret keeping, either.

Things I Need to Make Before I Leave and Who They Are Going To
sister - brooches for work, apron
sister's hubby - beer steins and beef sticks
brother 1 - boxers, beef sticks
brother 2 - quilt top
Dad - embroidered quilt top
Mom - king size pillowcases, maybe an apron
Gramma G - apron
Gramma K - handkerchiefs
The Awesome-est 3yo Ever and his Mom - quilt from the fabric we painted on for 2 months
Zombie - fleece coat so she doesn't freeze and so I can find her in the woods

Some of these are already done, some are in various stages of not quite done yet but almost and some have not been begun. Self-imposed deadline of Tuesday for finishing up anything gift-like that will be going to Michigan with me. 

I cleared off the table yesterday, cleaned the house, cut out patterns and generally anticipated having a major sewing day. Then I got an idea in my head that had to be purged before I could continue. I've been wanting a super cheap way to make domed shaped from polymer clay and came into possession of two spent incandescent bulbs. Huzzah, problem solved! They just needed bases added and then one thing led to another and I spent the evening claying instead of sewing.

P.S. Don't forget to enter the giveaway for a chance at some of my fabric and a vintage reprint Simplicity toy pattern. I'll draw winners late tonight and announce them tomorrow morning.

Mmmm, coffee!

Spices in the brewbasket this morning: 1 star anise, couple tablespoons cassia chunks, white cardamom pods thrown in on a whim and not measured in the least. Combine brew with creamer, vanilla and raw cane sugar, sip all morning long while cleaning and crafting. mmmmm

I'd planned on posting more throughout the week, but cleaned the house and completely rearranged the living room for better use and ease of cleaning. Now the shoes have a place to sit and be shoes instead of booby traps to trip you up constantly and I have a sofa to sit on when I'm using the computer instead of a wobbledy, painfully pointy chair with worn out thin foam cushion. When I finally get to play Cata, I'll be leveling in style; feet tucked up on the warm cushy couch, keyboard and mouse in easy reach, sipping on some spiced coffee. I wonder if I have enough time between now and when I leave for Michigan to get the Winter Veil achievements. They're pretty much the last ones I need for the year-long meta-achievement. hmm...

P.S. Don't forget to enter the giveaway for a chance at some of my fabric and a vintage reprint Simplicity toy pattern.

Monday, December 13, 2010

It's Sew, Mama Sew Giveaway Day!

Reprint of vintage Simplicity sew pattern including 4 different toys and gift bag for giving. This is the pattern up for grabs in the giveaway and is currently out of print.

Hello to visitors from SMS Giveaway Day! I jumped on the bandwagon a little late, as in last night. See this post for more explanation as to motivation for that. I wasn't completely sure I wanted to have my giveaway right away after finding this pattern again even though I was planning on having a giveaway for it months ago. As such, I only have the pattern ready right now. I need to collect a few pieces of my hand dyed fabrics to photograph and add to this giveaway, but that will absolutely happen before noon CST so no worries (it will be naturally dyed fabrics, probably mostly rust-dyed). At this time, I plan on two winners. One fabric winner and one pattern winner. However, if there is overwhelming interest/participation, I will certainly consider poking around my other sewing/crafting-related collection boxes to see what I can find and very possibly making some additional handmade by me something(s) for additional winners.

Here are the rules for my giveaway this time 'round.
1. At this time I can only afford to ship within the US.  My apologies to international readers, but the finances just aren't there for it right now.
2. Each comment to this post will be considered an entry, but need to be answers to the question prompt I will pose to you here in a few moments.
3. Constructive comments to other posts here will also count as entries. (For example, if you read a cooking post and know of a better, faster, or tastier way to accomplish the same or a similar dish.)
4. You can enter as many times as you like as long as each new entry is a relevant comment following the two points above.
5. You do not have to be a follower or subscriber to participate, but if you like what I have going on here I would love it if you would do so.
6. For the sake of my sanity in deciding winners: The pattern winner will be chosen solely from comments to this post answering the question below as it is baby/child-related and the pattern is also. The fabric winner will be chosen from constructive comments to other posts. (So if you only want to win one or the other, please keep that in mind.)
7. On Friday, December 17, I will most likely use random number generator to choose winners unless there are only a few entrants. 

And now for the question prompt. I need help figuring out what cute things to put on baby items, please. My sister and her husband are expecting their first child in April. I am told recently that it is a girl, however, I know these two will be having more children in the future and so I am wanting to keep most items relatively gender-neutral. I do not have money to buy cute, baby-related fabrics and so all of the cute details included on the onesies, diaper covers and blankets and such I make will have to be embroidered or painted on by me. The couple is, I suppose, your average educated, religious couple, well-versed in gaming and Internet culture as well both being hunters so I would like the decorative elements of items I make to reflect such (gaming and/or Internet culture, hunting, not-too-cutesy animal and general baby stuff, general geekery, books and reading, pirates, ninjas, etc.). Ideas, please?

Fabrics available for giveaway. All organic cotton fat quarters, natural dyed by me. From left to right: walnut dye, rust with walnut overdye, very light rust with very light walnut overdye, rust dyed.

And these are the fabrics available. They are all organic fat quarters, 4 in total, dyed by me. The only one of these that could possibly be reproduced is the far left with a strong walnut dye, the others are all completely one of a kind, never to be repeated. I am especially fond of the patterning on the far right piece, very detailed and intricate.



Good Mornin'!

I'm usually not coherent enough this time of day to post much of anything. But we got snow yesterday (squeee!) and it drifted all over last night so it's nice and bright outside this morning, not to mention cold. My favorite online weather site tells me that it is currently 12F outside and that's without taking windchill into consideration. So really, it's like a big ol' slice of Michigan winter right here in the middle of the country and letting the dog out to do her business this morning was plenty to wake me up! Brrr

Actually, Zombie dog didn't even want to go out the door herself. I'm thinking maybe I need to make her a winter coat. Now that she's pretty much grown it would no longer be an exercise in futility. I have a little under a yard of hunter orange fleece from when I worked at the fabric shop in Maryland. And bright orange sure would be beneficial to keeping track of her and preventing hunters from thinking she's a deer when I take her home for Christmas in a couple weeks.

Today is going to be my own, daytime, version of FNSI. I have gifts that need making. Real sewing things with patterns and everything. These projects include items from the two patterns shown later on in the post. The menswear pattern was purchased specifically to make boxers for my brothers. When Derek was here visiting this weekend, I posed the question to him of what he would like for Christmas prefacing it with I already pretty much knew what I would be making him, but I wanted to know if he had any other ideas.

Derek: Well, I could really use some new underwear. I only have like 5 pair anymore that fit and aren't worn out.
Me: HA! Good! Guess what I was gonna make you anyway!
D: Really? You were gonna make me underwear for Christmas? Cool!
M: You got a pair with you I can use for a pattern?
D: Uhhh, I only brought one other pair with me other than what I'm wearing. Will I get them back?
M: Ya, same day. I only need 'em for like an hour. Then you can have 'em back.
D: Really? Cool, sure.
M: They're boxers, right?
D: *looks right* No. *looks left* Yes. *looks down* No. *looks at me with evident confusion* Well, kinda.
M: Kinda? Are they made out of cotton or a knit? If it's a knit we need to go to the store and buy a pattern that will fit you, 'cause the only other pattern I have I already tried to size down to fit Duncan before he left and it was not entirely successful.

So we took a trip to the store of pattern buying and because McCall's was on sale I now have 3 new and extremely useful patterns. The apron one will be used for gifts for both Grammas, Mom and my sis who has wanted a frilly apron for years. I know she reads this blog and this post will spoil part of the surprise, but she will be no less happy with it. And making it public like this helps me not chicken out on making all those ruffles. The third pattern is a men's shirt pattern for Corey. I won't be making that before Christmas, but he's been asking for some nice new button-downs for a while. I kept saying I can dress him in some really nice new shirts already without buying any new patterns, but he wasn't too keen on wearing pirate shirts to work and most especially not if they had any ruffles. Spoilin' all my fun, I tell ya.

While I was rummaging through my box'o'patterns I found a duplicate that I had planned to have a giveaway for months ago and forgot. This brings me to the topic of my next post for the morning. I have signed up for the Sew, Mam Sew Giveaway Day event. I will be posting a photo of the pattern (really reprint of a vintage Simplicity toy pattern) and giveaway rules in my next post in a few minutes so stay tuned!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

"Sorry I Disappeared" and Friday Night Sew-In Results

Heya. Sorry for disappearing for almost a month.    >.< 

I don't want to be *that* blogger. You know, the one who regularly apologizes for disappearing off the face of the Internet for weeks on end. I had a calendar all printed out and had arranged all sorts of things on it at regular intervals that I wanted to blog about, but that challenge in October kinda burnt me out on blogging. I had to fight with myself for everything that got posted in November and it just wasn't fun for me. So I've concluded that that kind of regular blogging is not for me. I'm really good at planning, just not so good at schedules and deadlines; even when they're self-imposed. Hell, my senior thesis for undergrad wasn't turned in until the day we were supposed to walk across the stage. And even at that it was turned in while I was wearing my cap and gown on the way to the auditorium. See there? Not something I'm particularly proud of and probably something I should work on, but this really isn't a new development.

So. Where does that leave us? Some kind of unfortunate craftyblog limbo I'm sure. I want to still share recipes and links to sites and things that I love as well as photos of things I've made.The overall feel and tone of what I write and post about will not be changing. That is, it won't be changing as long as I'm not changing myself or my personality as that's where all of this comes from. I like making things and cooking and writing and reading and life in general and sharing all that kind of stuff here. I just want that to occur in a no-pressure, happy fun time, no deadlines sort of way.

The only content change I anticipate is that some posts in the future will be possibly not safe for work or objectionable to certain people. Thus far I have kept the blog G or, at the very most (though I can't think of any posts offhand that would qualify), PG 13 rated. I have ideas and sketches for things that I want to make and share that would probably be considered inappropriate for family viewing by part of the general populace and I don't really want to maintain another blog so that I can share those things, though I may ultimately decide to do so. For those reading this right now and thinking about dropping me from your reader or clicking on un-follow, please know that these posts, if they happen here instead of another blog I'd maintain, will be very clearly labeled and have page breaks included so that you can make the decision to view them if you want and will not just pop up without warning; that would be inconsiderate and just plain rude. I have yet to make the ultimate decision, however, if I will be posting those here or elsewhere and if you by chance have an opinion about such, feel free to say so in the comments or in an email to me. I will definitely take your statement about the matter into consideration.

Alrighty, now that all that is purged from my thought train and in print so to speak, we can get on with the fun stuff. Yay! :) I loves me some fun stuff! And photos. I love those, too. Guess what!? I have both below. Woohoo! Happy fun times! Enthusiasm! Ya! *coughcough* Anyway...

I signed up for and participated in Heidi's Friday Night Sew-In this week. I was supposed to post the results yesterday (Saturday) but my brother brought my pseudo-Dad into town for pseudo-Dad's son-in-low's deployment to help out his daughter with childminding and housework duties before she moves back home and I would much rather have spent all the time I could with them instead of being on the Internet not matter how much I do enjoy blogging and sharing with you all here. There's another FNSI the 17th and I feel so awesome about how much I got done this round that I've signed up for the next one, too. It may not seem like I got that much finished from the photos, but keep in mind that everything I did was completely by hand, no machine in sight.

It is not sewing, but I started making a lap blanket for Great-gramma's holiday gift. It's a huge granny square crocheted with what I think it a size P hook using 2 strands held together of random acrylic yarns from my stash. I still have to work in all the yarn ends, but the boy had a blast choosing which color yarn to use next and helping me by cutting the yarn to change color. I just have to remember from henceforth to lock the scissors back up in the Starline case I use for a sewing box in the future as he woke up the next morning and started cutting up threads, yarns, glasses cleaning cloth, leftover fabric bits, etc. Luckily he stuck to cutting my sewing materials and things I've allowed him to cut before and nothing else in the house.
Crochet granny square lap blanket. Arcylic stash yarns, colors chosen at random by the most awesome 3yo ever.

My tootsies have been freezing lately, especially during raids. This is partially precipitated by my overall perpetual coldness and partially from my participation in Crunchy's 2010 Freeze Yer Buns challenge as the living room has a space heater keeping it generally in the mid-60s while being separated from the rest of the house which I set to 55-58 depending how I'm feeling on the thrifty/energy-conscious vs. cold scale at any given time. I cut up a wool skirt that was accidentally felted and put the finishing touches on these awesome house shoes. No more painfully cold toes. Even though I have solved the painfully cold toes problem, I won't be going below 55 on the thermostat. 
Black wool from an accidentally felted skirt, turmeric dyed wool yarn, wool felt-covered button fasteners and a tiny heart-shaped button on the heel of the left foot.

The boy (aka most awesome 3yo ever) has been asking for an elephant for months. I thought it was just a passing request while we were painting one day and he would soon forget about it. Nope. Every time I visited he would ask if I had made his elephant yet. So on Friday I dug through my pattern collection looking for a collection of ziploc-baggied pattern pieces organized by animal; a collection of various zoo animal stuffies from a pattern I got from Gramma G way back in junior high and somehow still predominantly intact save 2/3 instruction pages and maybe 1 or 2 of the 7-8 original animals. The boy chose a fabric from the collection of commercial and self-dyed fabrics I brought with me, helped me hold the pattern pieces onto the fabric as I traced them, very carefully placed each and every tissue-y bit of pattern back into its ziploc and then asked every 30-45 seconds during the hand-sewing process if his elephant was done yet. I forgot to bring my polyfil with me so he had to wait ever so impatiently for me to go home the next day and finish sewing up his elephant's tummy so the insides wouldn't fall out. FYI - it's a boy elephant and his name is Jumbo; the big-eyed bat is a girl bat and he hasn't chosen a name yet for her
Unbleached cotton, organic cotton sewing thread, tiny mismatched button eyes, cotton thread braided tail and embroidered heart on butt. The boy absolutely loves his new elephant. 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Tuesday Love Links: DIY Doggie stuff

Zombie has been with us for several weeks now and is officially a member of the family. While I have not yet made anything specifically for Z, I have been doing a lot of research since she first came to live with us and today's Love Links post is a variety of dog-related sites and projects from basic training to crafts and DIY treats.

Scrappy Dog Bed Tutorial from Urban Crunch *
No Sew Dog Bandanna also from Urban Crunch
Dog Bone Shaped Cookie Cutter from Instructables user  Doggie Stylish (lots more from this user, too)
Biscuit Mix in a Jar from Bella Online user Sandy Moyer (good quick and cheap gift for someone with a dog and has a printable card/instructions)
Penelope Cake at The Bark has a few neat tutorials for canine accoutrements
As usual, the folks at Martha Stewart have a bunch of great-looking dog crafts (most are for smaller dogs, but could easily be altered for larger breeds) *

Peanut Butter Dog Treats from Sugarlaws
Homemade Treats from Craftzine
Homemade Dog Cookies tutorial from Instructables user basilicious
Diabetic Dog Treats from AllRecipes user barb Maxwell *
Homemade Dog Food from AllRecipes user BKBISHOP
Guide to Making Your Own Dog Food at Home from Gourmet Sleuth

Training and Behavior
LOTS of behavior and training information articles available here on The Bark
DIY Agility Course from  Canine Crib (this one could have gone under Crafting as well, but overall I think it falls better into the Training and Behavior category)
The Walk from Dog Breed Info Center (Also has LOTS of other articles ind information regarding training and behavior and how to help fix or eliminate problem behaviors. This site has become invaluable to me as I work with Zombie learning verbal and visual commands and learning what to expect from a labrador/beagle mix.)

* denotes shown in photo mosaic

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Tueday Love Links: 2011 Printable Calendars

Make Your Own owl-themed 2011 Calendar from My Owl Barn*  (free and with 30 different artists/images to choose from)
No-Nonsense Customizable Printables from Calendar Labs  (free)
Print and Cut Nature Calendar from Blue Tricycle
Psychedelic Printables from Valentina Design*
Cute Cartoon Images from Homemade Calendars  (free)
Origami Animals from Missus D*
Bright Florals from Valentina Design
Pretty, Feminine Colors and Classic Design Elements from STRUTH design
Scenic Images from Homemade Calendars  (free)
Cute and Colorful Options from 123NewYears

*  = featured in photo mosaic

Saturday, November 6, 2010

One-Pot Breakfast

They both have to be brought to a boil for 10-12 minutes. I figure why not boil them all together and save some dish washing, right? Added salt and pepper to boiling water. Turned out with perfect potatoes and pre-seasoned boiled eggs that I didn't even have to salt. Awesome.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Recipe Friday: Crispy Hash Browns

I must start this Recipe Friday with an apology. I teased you last week stating that this week's recipe included honey and roses and it really was supposed to. I was going to make honey-sweetened, rose-flavored ice cream. And I tried 3 times, but it isn't happening yet. My freezer has stopped getting cold enough to properly freeze the bowl of my ice cream maker and so it isn't freezing anything. I am still making it right now in the freezer using a different freezing method, but you will unfortunately have to wait until the next Recipe Friday for the recipe and photo instructions. I am sorry. Instead, here is a recipe and instructions for what was for dinner the other night: hash browns!

I tried for years to figure out how to make delicious, crispy hash browns in my own kitchen. I would get all sorts of yummy, delicious fried potato sides and flavor combinations, but they were never crispy enough. I wanted them to be like the hash browns I got at the Waffle House on Natty Bridge when I went there with Doc to talk about band stuff and student government stuff and life in general. After trying and trying and failing and failing I figured it was just some sort of potato trickery and people weren't supposed to get crispy hash browns at home. Kind of like you can never make McDonald's fries at home; they're not really potatoes, there's a bunch of other stuff in there, too. Then Corey made breakfast and succeeded in making the best hash browns I've had since those Waffle House days with Doc. Apparently it has nothing to do with the type or condition of your potatoes, how hot the oil is or how how long you cook them. The only thing that matters is the moisture level of the shredded potatoes and not crowding the pan.

P.S. - I have learned that there is this contraption called a potato ricer made specifically for squishing the liquid out of shredded potatoes (or mashing cooked ones also). It sounds like it would be pretty neat, but crispy hash browns can definitely be accomplished without another kitchen contraption.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


rotting logs, Forest Park, St Louis, MO

Here are a few giveaways I have entered recently with links to enter yourself if you would like, in order of ending date.

Bushel of Apples Garland from What. No Mints? at What. No Mints? Blog   - ends Nov 8, 2010

Microwavable corn-filled heat pads by Corn Warmerz from Momma Told Me - ends Nov 10, 2010 (I have a tutorial planned soon for making this type of corn-filled hot/cold pack)

"My Other Ride is a Unicorn" bag by Sick for Cute from Momma Told Me - ends Nov 10, 2010

Lasercut fairy tale puppets by  Isabella's Art from Momma Told Me - ends Nov 12, 2010

3D Clock by 3DTdesign  from Momma Told Me - ends Nov 12, 2010

Collar and Leash set by Diva Dawg  from  Momma Told Me - ends Nov 12, 2010

Rainbow Bird Ornaments from KhaliNouveau giveaway at Adore By Nat - ends Nov 13, 2010

Barefoot Contessa cookbook giveaway at Bo's Bowl - ends Nov 14, 2010

$65 CSN Stores GC giveaway at Miss Organic's Kitchen - ends Nov 14, 2010

$65 CSN Stores GC giveaway at Great Blog Giveaways - ends Nov 14, 2010

Bold Rugs giveaway at One Bored Mommy Blogspot - ends Nov 15, 2010

Happy Day of the Dead!

Today is Day of the Dead and it's been a great, if cloudy, fall day here. Halloween is my favorite holiday, followed closely by Day of the Dead and other similarly celebrated and death-related traditions. I also love skull imagery and art so today I took some time to ogle a few DotD related crafts and photos and arranged my favorites here in this mosaic. Number 5 is a sugar skull necklace by artist Lorena Angulo and she is having a giveaway for it on her blog. She also has a lot of other beautiful jewelery so go check her out.


left to right, top to bottom
1. Genka skull and flower - gwenboul
2. Pin Cushion Queen inspired doll - Toshworks
3. Zombie Skeleton Musician Guitar Solo Metal Sculpture - Zed's Zombie Ranch
4. Scary Skull Scarf PDF Pattern - JudesCreations
*5. Sugar Skull Necklace - Lorena Angulo
6. Sugar Skull hair Flowers - sugarcoffin
7. sugar skull cupcakes - rockamandy
8. Santa Muerte altar talisman - magickshop
9. Skull and Bones Cake - Empress Eve
10. calaveras de dulces - GeeJo
11. OfrendaColonMixquic - Thelmadatter
12. Quijote - José Guadalupe Posada 

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Blogtoberfest and Hang 'em Dry Challenge Wrap Up

tiny, gorgeous moss growing on rocks at Forest Park, St Louis, MO

It is the end of the month and subsequently the end of the two challenges I participated in this month. I did not do as well on the blogging one as I did on the laundry one. The clothes dryer was in operation approximately 8 hours for the entirety of the month, not bad when I figure that our dryer normally takes over an hour per load to get things dry by itself, 1.5 hours if it's towels or sheets. At 2-4 loads of laundry per week, that time adds up fast. If I used the dryer for all of the drying I'd end up with an average of about 5 hours of drying time per week or 20 hours per month. That's 12 hours less drying time per month and, since my dryer is not energy efficient, a nice bit of savings on our electric bill. I will definitely be continuing the air drying for most all laundry done. The exceptions will be bedding because it takes way too long to dry without a proper outdoor clothesline (which is not an option in our treeless yard) as well as any clothing items that need to be washed and ready to wear ASAP for work or anything like that.

I missed 10 days of October for blogging, fully one third of the month, despite having a total of 25 posts. I am not necessarily unhappy about the blogging I have done, but I do not believe I will be participating in any similar blogging-type challenges in the future. I think the content in some of my posts this month was lacking and I'd rather just not post for a few days and have something pretty or interesting to show you rather than a bunch of DIY type links without having made even one of the items or crafts linked myself. That said, I have been crafting, just nothing very exciting or picturesque. To illustrate this ststement, I've got a couple of lists going on below.

Crafty and creative things in various stages of completion around here that are not really all that photogenic or just weren't photographed for a variety of reasons: 
~recycling large cardboard boxes into small packages for mailing Etsy orders
~wrapping rusted metal pieces up in an old pink shirt for rust dying
~tying knots in ropes for bird toys
~fishing dead and dying wasps out of the walnut dye bucket/vat
~dying bits and pieces with said vat
~collecting onion skins for dying
~painting fabric with the 3 year old (I don't have paper paints, only fabric ones, so all the paint-type art projects I do with him are on fabric and I need to figure out what to do with them all at some point)
~pumpkin carving with the 3 year old
~roasting seeds from all the pumpkins carved and eaten recently
~making dog lead/leash (I do plan on making a tutorial for this one)
~ongoing cleaning and reorganization of crafting and sewing space and supplies
~more hexagon making and attaching
~endless dishes from cooking and baking and making up recipes (multiple Recipe Friday posts in the making)
~making another batch of homemade laundry detergent

Things that I would like to be doing and photographing but haven't had time for recently: ~collecting colorful leaves and berries before it is no longer autumn and they all turn brown and icky
~wrapping up fabric bundles with said collected items and steaming them to dye the fabric
~cutting wood pieces and boards and clamping fabric between them to do some itajime dying
~sorting fabric stash according to fiber content and weight so I can take stock of what is left and use it for holiday gifts
~making a couple of wigs with the duffle bag of yarns I have (to be added to my soon-to-be-started costume collection)
~making quilt tops for siblings' holiday gifts
~writing up and sharing my recipe and method for making hot Chai tea at home (listed because my fingers are cold right now and it sure would be nice to wrap my hands around a cup of steamy, fragrant tea)
~walking through what passes for woods around here to see what I can find
~harvesting some of the bright red sumac berries I see ready in a couple of places and using them for dying

I suppose since I have started taking this blogging thing seriously, I need to start taking the planning and creating of posts part more seriously as well and begin scheduling a month or so of posts in advance. Kinda like scheduling study, library, homework, research and test time for school work I guess. I think that's what I'll do today before raid time. We are so close to downing The Lich King I can hardly wait until raid. Also, the Hallow's Eve event is one of my favorites in-game. The screen shot below is part of the reason for this. Fighting evil treants as a skeleton? Awesome. Plus battling Headless Horseman and costumed players everywhere you turn.

Right now, however, I am still very tired and cold and in need of a little more sleep after waking up at 5 with Corey and the dog. I will also have a post with pics of the costume later today once Corey's home and can take them for me.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Wings, check

Finished wings; just need snap attachments added.

Wings are all cut and stitched together. Color layer order ended up being reversed due to amounts of fabric available and fabric weights. The black is a really heavy polyester and would not have worked as top layer over the mid-weight light color and super lightweight lining fabric of the medium color. I am not finishing any edges on these. If they fray, they fray. I may go back over the edges later on with free-motion stitching to make sure they don't fray into oblivion, but the overall effect I'm going for is a little raggedy. I need to sew on some snaps so I can attach them to a grey cardigan sweater to wear over the slip tonight. Next up: making and attaching feather shapes to the slip. I figure if I don't get to the beak-making part that isn't so bad since I have some vibrant yellow eyeshadow I can can use on my schnoz instead.

Some during the making of shots.

My Totally Last-Minute Costume

Costume sketch for female Hoots (forgot to draw in alto sax), October 2010.

My costume is totally last minute this year. I’ve been waffling between zombie, vampire, Mad Hatter, pirate, and ghost. And at this point you’re probably thinking wow, indecisive much? This morning I woke up with the idea to be an owl and a plan to make my costume using an old slip and bits from my fabric and scraps stashes. Totally free and recycling. Awesome. Now I just need to get my bum in gear to clear out the sewing machine and get on with the snipping and stitching.

That pic above is a scan from one of my always-nearby sketch and idea notebooks. Drawing took maybe about 5 minutes after I woke up so it's really sloppy and not particularly detailed. I foresee the sewing and crafting area being a certifiable disaster afterward, but my costume will (hopefully) be totally rockin'! 'Cause the plan is for not just any owl, but a feminine version of my favorite Sesame Street character, Hoots. I haven't had the sax out in a while, but I still know my way around a concert E flat blues scale no problem.

Here's one of my favorite Hoots appearances. Enjoy!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Last Minute Halloween Links

Halloween Paper Bag Bowls * via the long thread
Strongman Costume via the Craftzine blog
Altered Footwear * via the Craftzine blog
Lady Gaga Hair Bow (pdf) via Savers and Value Village (other easy costume ideas and how-to's there as well)
Lady Gaga Red Lace by scoochmaroo on Instructables
Lady Gaga Red Body Suit by Carleyy on Instructables *

Easy DIY Bat Costume
Mason Jar Lanterns *
Instant Ghost Costume via Heartsong Fine Art (seriously really, really quick and easy and cheap)
Spooky Fabric Wall Art via The Graphics Fairy *
Zentangle Pumpkin via Chica and Jo * (lots and lots of very easy and kid-friendly projects)
Bats at the Door from Country Living (really cool effect!)

* denotes project featured in photo mosaic

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Meet Zombie

She was named Ninja when we got her, but she is totally not a ninja. Not stealthy at all and, in fact, just about as much a klutz as me. As Corey said, "She reminds me more of a Beverly Hills Ninja then Shinobi." And she tripped on the curb when we took her to PetSmart to pick out toys. Twice. Both entering the store and exiting. There was no deliberation that went into calling her Zombie, though. The first time I raised my voice to tell her and a friend's dog to settle down I called her Zombie instead of Ninja by accident. We call her Z for short.

*nose smooches*

Snoozin' on the kitchen floor.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Waldo Hat

While I was in St Louis this last time, a friend was lamenting that she had not been able to find the right hat for her Halloween costume yet. I asked what kind of hat she was looking for and was informed that she was looking for a Waldo hat, as in Where's Waldo. I immediately said that I could make her one and promised it would arrive in time for Halloween. So this weekend I improvised a pattern  for the two-colored hat and made a fun pompom for the top. Below is a photo of me proudly wearing said hat outside the post office before mailing yesterday, courtesy of Corey and his new phone.  (I think he secretly left his old phone in the pocket of his dirty jeans and threw them in the laundry just so he'd have a reason to get a new phone.) I think he took it using some sort of effects thing or something but I'm not sure.

In other news, we made an addition to the household this weekend. We have adopted a lab mix who was rescued from an abusive situation by friends. She's fitting in pretty well and aside from a couple of easily-remedied dominance issues (namely pulling while walking and begging for food), she's great. Photos to come. I will also have that recipe write up from last week's Recipe Friday ready for you tomorrow.

My Review of Accordion Drying Rack in White and Natural

A while back I reported that I had won a giftcard for CSN Stores and used it to get a drying rack and a digital kitchen scale. I have since been asked by CSN Stores to review said items and below is my review for the drying rack, which I have been using to participate in Crunchy Chicken's Hang 'em Dry Challenge. (There's still a little time left in October and you could join the challenge here if you're interested. Better late than never and all that jazz.) The kitchen scale will follow in a few days. I also won another CSN giftcard from another giveaway and used it go get a heated perch for my old man bird and that review will be forthcoming in the near future as well once it gets cold and we start using it. 

Originally submitted at CSN Stores

  • Accordion Drying Rack
  • Combination of white and natural finish
  • Wood construction
  • Adjustable height
  • Folds flat for storage
  • Prevent snagging and slipping with a top shelf that's great for air drying sweaters
  • Can be use...

Great Little Drying Rack! Very Happy
By DK from Western KY on 10/24/2010
5out of 5
Pros: Easy to store, Simple Instructions, Easy to Use, Lightweight, Efficient
Best Uses: Travel, Home, Dorm, Keep In Laundry Room, Cleaning
Describe Yourself: Renter, Housekeeper
This is a great little drying rack. Lightweight, easy to use and store, no little plastic bits to break after a couple uses.

The only real con to it is that after a few uses and having set it outside for use to take advantage of breezes and sunlight, the joints start to loosen a bit and the unit begins to sway a little. It also doesn't do so well with multiple pairs of heavy denim work pants.

But these are in no way completely unexpected as it is made of wood and wood bends and warps with moisture and pressure. The bars on which laundry is hung, however, do have some sort of plastic coating to help prevent this from happening.

All in all a most excellent product at a great price!
set up outdoors
Tags: Picture of Product
in use outdoors
Tags: Using Product, Picture of Product

Friday, October 22, 2010

Recipe Friday: Savory Stuffed Sugar Pumpkin

Around this time of year here in the US, small sugar pumpkins are readily available and reasonable priced (mine was 67 cents per pound!) This is the recipe I said I'd made for you last Friday but was too sick and headache-y to write.  I am going to be making Recipe Friday a bi-weekly event. So no recipe tomorrow, but there will be one next Friday. Here are some ingredients from next week's recipe: honey, dried rosebuds, cream. Any guesses?

mmmm, gooey insides

Savory Stuffed Sugar Pumpkin

1 sugar pumpkin, ~3-6lbs.
~2-3 cups cheese(s), shredded or cubed (I cubed mine and used smoked Swiss/cheddar blend, sharp cheddar, and regular Swiss)
~2-3 cups shredded bread (day old and stale work wonderfully here)
herbs and seasonings of your choice (I used smoked paprika)
2-5 cloves of minced garlic or equivalent dried and powdered
2 eggs
~1/2-3/4 cup cream or half and half
salt and pepper

Happy Friday to You

Fridays are supposed to be recipe days around here. And I did make something for you. I just have one heck of a sinus headache and ridiculous cough and would much rather curl up and sleep. I made a baked sugar pumpkin filled with savory bread pudding and cheese. It's really good. And I did take photos. So I will get that post written up later this weekend for you with photos and step by step instructions. I really do need to make up a month or 2 of Recipe Friday posts and auto-schedule them so this doesn't happen.  Sorry.

In other news, I found someone else who is using rusted, rotted and naturally dyed fabrics for embroidery grounds. The piece below is an example of Lindsay Joy's work from her Flickr photostream, where she is known as forestine. I like it quite a lot. She also has costumes and process photos of dyeing, embroidery and the costume making. I love the various naturally dyed scarves and cloth bits, but that's pretty much a given, right? I wish I could get some of the pieces I have stashed outside to rot so well as some of hers, but I think in order to do that I would have to pay more attention to them and water daily or something like that instead of just letting nature do its thing.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

New (to me) Book Ordered

I first saw Barbara R. Call's  The Crafter's Devotional when I was working at a Borders in Maryland. I don't talk about working at the bookstore much because I was only there a few weeks and, well, it pretty much sucked. The only redeeming factor was that the place was filled with all manner of books and I got to learn about new authors, titles and genres every day while I tried to clean up several months' worth of neglected dusting and mis-shelving by other, non-temporary, employees. I just can't stand it when a retail workplace is not clean and orderly and have it on good standing that the place is still ridiculously filthy and unorganized under the same manager. But that is neither here nor there. On one of my evening cleaning and re-shelving sprees I found an attractive-looking, turquoise-colored hardcover shoved between unremarkable tomes of coin identification and baseball card collecting. It was far too pretty and non-stuffy looking to belong with the books about collecting things. I leafed through it and decided that I wanted to take it home with me, but I hadn't been an employee long enough for the employee book borrowing program to have kicked in yet and at ~$25 it was way too expensive for me even with the employee discount. So I re-shelved it where it rightly belonged with all the other bright and colorful craft books and added it to the ever-growing list of Books I Want to Own Some Day.

Yes, that is a real list I keep. At the very tippetyy-top of that list right now is India Flint's Eco Colour, but not all that farther down is Crafter's Devotional. Or, rather, it was. Until I decided how to spend a $10 Amazon gift card I recently received for participation in a Sharing Economy Study over at Latitude that is. I just ordered a used copy in like new condition for $4.90 plus shipping. Even if it is more worn that the seller states and isn't quite like new, that's a pretty stellar deal for a new hardcover book from my list to add to my personal library. I have absolutely nothing against used books or other media. Keeps it out of a landfill and costs less than new. Rockin'! I am totally looking forward to using this new book and sharing the projects I make using it.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

y = -A((e^(-x/B) + e^(x/B))/2)+A = STL Edition of (Not Really) Wordless Wednesday

I'm back from St Louis and over the next few days will be catching up on responding to all the comments left here as well as Etsy conversations that I did not gt to at all over the weekend. The wedding was wonderful and I am so happy I got to see my friend (who I am convinced is one of the absolute best people on the face of the earth, for many reasons) get married and catch up with other good friends at the reception afterward. The photo above was taken on highway 64/40 westbound coming into the city. A few minutes before I took this while driving I had caught a glimpse of the archtop between two business buildings and gasped in surprise. Somehow I had not realized I was that close to my destination and was taken aback when I saw a sliver of the iconic structure. These short trips have made me miss the city more and more, but we have the beginnings of a plan to move back in 5-7 months or so. No offense, Fort Campbell, but I don't particularly like living here; you're kinda boring.

That equation in the post title came from my high school AP Calc class. We had to find real life applications for various functions and equations and my group had the Gateway Arch of St Louis. I do not recall now what most of those letters stood for or why. I can't really even tell you why I remember the equation 10 years later, but I can tell you that is an equation for a flattened catenary curve meaning it is thinner in the middle than the ends. This structural design basis for the symbol of my most beloved city also helps create the illusion that it is taller than it really is when observed from the ground. Isn't calculus fun!? Well, I think it is anyway, even if I don't remember even 1/2 of what I originally learned about it. I feel the same way about physics, too, and especially particle physics. So cool! I find the simultaneous simplicity of nature and multiplicity of solutions involved with equations a very attractive concept, but mostly I think I just like the rearranging of things from side to side to solve for variables and the fact that you can do whatever you want to them as long as you do it to both sides and it's still all perfectly balanced and, oh, did I mention they can be used to make drawings, too? Holy crap is that ever awesome! I <3 Math. I'll stop babbling now and let you see more pictures.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Tuesday Love Links: Jewelry from my Wists

Continuing a series wherein a share from my extensive bookmarks, Wists and StumbleUpon favorites.


Crop circles XL two tone hoops - E191 from noracatherine on Etsy

Yasha Butler Turquoise Tinted Porcelain Earrings from Tilde Shop


Rusty Orange Tulip Blossom Copper Vintage Style Earrings from ForTheCrossJewelry on Etsy

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Care Package Tetris

Back in February I made a short post about one of my brother's deployment overseas. Duncan's been home for R&R already and is now back overseas. He called last week and asked for snacks. Primarily he wanted nuts and salty things, but a mixture would be nice. I think this is the 4th or 5th time we have sent packages to him and I like to think I've gotten pretty darned good at playing "Snack Tetris" and getting as much as I possibly can inside the size large flatrate priority mail boxes. Mom and Dad send boxes filled much the same way and when I was living back home during Derek's first deployment I used to make silly little drawings and origami animals to include in his packages. I feel badly that I never sent Derek any packages during his last deployment partly because I did not have his address and partly because I could hardly afford to feed myself and buy gas to get to work while I was in Maryland. I'm thinking a surprise package will find its way to his doorstep soon and I feel certain that he will love it even though he is no longer in the Army.

Box 1 of 2. Crackers, jerky and puzzle books wouldn't fit so there will be a second box soon. Contents listed below.

2 hardback novels
4 pots Armour vienna sausages
1 17 oz can mixed nuts
2 8 oz jars powdered coffee creamer
1 Betty Crocker Warm Delights bowl
1 18 oz jar peanut butter
1 9 oz can smoked almonds
1 15.6 oz can Pillsbury Funfetti frosting
1 12 oz honey bear
1 3D wooden puzzle toy
1 16 oz tub Hills Bros French Vanilla flavor Cappucino drink mix
1 7.2 ox bag sunflower kernels
1 5.25 oz bag ranch flavored sunflower seeds
1 3.5 oz bag cashew pieces
2-pack 2 fl oz bottles vanilla scented hand sanitizer
13 Wyler's Light single serve drink powder packets
2 2 fl oz 5-hour energy type drink shots
1 5.5 oz bag Sugar Daddy candies
1 6 oz bag Crybaby bubblegum candy
1 5 lb bag assorted Halloween candies

Friday, October 15, 2010

Recipe Friday: Cheap and Easy Frozen Mousse Dessert from Pioneer Woman

I read this cooking and food blog called Pioneer Woman Cooks. She has all sorts of other sections to her site, but the cooking one is the only one I have on my reader. Earlier this week she posted a recipe for Chocolate Almond Frozen Mousse. I know there are some people who would never touch it because it's made with Cool Whip, but let me tell you it is pretty delicious. And easy. Seriously. All you do is thaw your Cool Whip, stir in some cold coffee (and maybe extra vanilla if you really like the taste of it like I do), melt a chocolate bar and stir that in, put it back in the freezer until later. Or serve 1/2 of it for dessert after breakfast like I did. 'Cause sometimes breakfast needs a dessert. Or maybe it's just me and I'm mistaken. Right or wrong it's still tasty. And about as close to ice cream as I can get lately. Stupid dietary intolerances.

I took pictures while I was making it, but neglected to take even one of it served up in a dessert bowl or wine glass even though it is kinda pretty. I'm not going to steal the recipe for here even though I've already told you exactly what goes in it and how to make it. Head over to PW's post for the actual recipe and awesome photos (Seriously, hers are more awesome than mine ever would be) and tips for making your own batch.

**Edit 10/28/2010** Some photos of the deliciousness after being refrozen and served up after my return from St Louis.

As far me, I am finishing up packing for a quick trip to St Louis for a dear friend's wedding that I wasn't sure I'd be able to go to. Overjoyed! Even though I don't have a proper wedding gift as such, I want to be there with all my most awesome uni friends to celebrate, cry, and celebrate some more. I'll be making the couple a handmade blanket/quilt of their own and hopefully I will finish it before it ends up being both a wedding and anniversary present this time. So stay tuned for that. I will also probably post a photo or several from the trip while I'm there, but posting is not a guarantee so enjoy your weekend fully and I'll see y'all next week!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Coming soon to My Etsy Shop

Fair warning: extraordinarily pic-heavy post

The items I have shown here will be included in a shop update on Friday; vintage items, postcards, earrings, my handmade ceramic items, etc. Prices listed here are often at a discount from what I would list them for in the shop and purchasing from me as a reader prior to placement in the shop allows you to get these things free of shipping charges (for U.S. delivery that is. I may have to ask a small sum if you wish for international delivery depending upon the item).  Larger images are available upon request. If you are interested in purchasing an item, please email me and we will work out payment through PayPal.

Item 1
Set of 4 vintage embroidered hankies with cross-stitch decoration and hand finished edges. These are 100% handmade, not embellished commercial hankies. $9

extraordinarily neat back side of cross-stitch embroidery

small blemish in weave of cloth on 1 hankie

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