Friday, July 30, 2010

soon to be listed in my etsy

Clockwise from left: red sunflower spirals, translucent drops with inclusions, silver swirls and tiny glow worm in top hat, silver and gold spiral buttons, intergalactic-inspired pendant.


WIP: bird on a limb necklace

I'm working on some more earrings, for regular pierced and for stretched lobes, another necklace, and some dyed fabrics for listing. Pending the spastic, throbbing pain in my lower back subsides long enough for me to finish up ans photograph some items, I should be opening shop on Monday. I will make an announcement here with a link to the shop when I do open and will also be hosting a giveaway drawing to celebrate!

Recipe Friday: Liquid Laundry Detergent


I have been making my own laundry detergent for about a year. Initially this was an exercise in low-budget living from my sister. At the time I did not necessarily have a financial reason to desire making 5 gallons of laundry soap concentrate for approximately $2.00. I did, however, have plenty of reason in the form of persistent and (very) occasionally ER-visit-worthy skin allergies. Hives and whole-body swelling which threatens to close off one's airway do not make for a pleasant evening; all because someone else did laundry and used the not Free-And-Clear variety of detergent, often along with fabric softener. So if I visit your house for several days and insist that I do my own laundry please do not be offended. Though I started making my own detergent because of allergies, the cost is a definite bonus and one 5-gallon bucket of the stuff lasts me 3-5 months. Two dollars for 3 months' worth of laundry detergent? Yes, please! Plus I can make it up using whatever scent I like and am not allergic to.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Recipe Friday: Rice Milk

My apologies for this not being posted on Friday. I did not do something right for the auto-post thing to happen like it was supposed to. 



Being of the lactose intolerant variety, I have had to avoid dairy for years. I did not know that rice, soy and the plethora of other milk alternatives even existed until I was in college. Even then I did not have them often as they're often more than a little pricey on a student budget. A couple of years ago I sat drinking some chai tea with vanilla soy milk while watching birds through the front widow of the apartment in St Louis when I thought to myself, "You know, this stuff exists commercially for a reason. There have to have been humans in general in various cultures worldwide who had to find alternatives to dairy so it had to exist non-commercially before that, right?"


CSN Stores Giveaways


I've got a few CSN Giveaways that I want to win share! 
The hotlink to the left is to the blog/site's main page; the one to the right to the relevant giveaway pos for entering. 




CSN Stores  has all sort of things. Pretty much anything you could need or want for your home, they have; with the exception of washboards, I've already checked. Need a hazardous liquid storage can? They've got you covered. Want a countertop apple peeler/corer or your very own pair of tater mitts? They've got those, too. So I'm still looking for a reasonably priced washboard for doing laundry by hand when needed, but I would love to get a new digital scale for soap-making. And for trying out some of the lovely recipes I've seen featured on Aussie blogs but that only measure things in grams instead of our archaic US cups/teaspoons/etc.



Also, I have just realized that the Recipe Friday post I had schedule for this past Friday did not post as I had thought I had it scheduled to do. I will rectify that shortly.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Sashiko Stitch-Along 2


It is not fun at all, actually. These are a few of the crappy pics I ended up with trying to document progress on the sashiko project. The glue that melts on the backside of the interfacing to bond it to the fabric bounces light almost like a mirror. regardless of my inability to photograph interfacing well, I have finished Step 2 of the sashiko tutorial.


Starting the stitches!




Coming up exactly in the center of the corner; had to redo some stitched here and remeasure stitch lengths in order to make it happen like it was supposed to.



Loops are left in corners to prevent puckering of the fabric later on.


Corner where it all starts is same corner where it all ends. This shows what you do with the thread tails to secure things.

This is what the front looks like with the frame all stitched!

Now time for Step 3 of the tutorial!

Sashiko Stitch-Along 1

I have not been following the Sashiko tutorial (see the photo link there on the top of the right sidebar?) and posting my progress along with everyone else so far. I have been busy elsewhere in the realm of creating. I am going to be announcing the opening of my own Etsy front very soon (I'd say withing two weeks at the most) and have been working on things for that; which I will be showing a few pics of soon.I  finally got started on my sashiko today and below are the pics so far. I'll basically be live-blogging throughout today (and possibly into tomorrow) as I complete each step so stay tuned!


This is my pattern printed onto tracing paper. Why tracing paper? Well, I did not have any interfacing at all when I first started; thought I did, but no. It was all wonder under style fusible web. I forget just what brand (it is not wonder under) I have, but I have about 3/4 of a roll of it plus another whole bolt that was given to me by a spice shop coworker years ago. Because I did not have interfacing, I was going to use a gluestick to attach the tracing paper to the back of my material and just stitch through that because I am trying not to purchase additional craft patterns and supplies unless I know that it will be important in multiple projects. There are several items I would like to make that would require a lightweight interfacing, however, and as Corey pointed out, I have been needing to buy some for a while because I keep putting off making these things. The pattern I have chosen to stitch is not in the least a traditional sashiko and it is not the one pictured because I would have had to purchase a pattern that I honestly do not see myself reusing very much if at all. I forget what this kind of geometric pattern is called; there is a specific name for it, though. It is all straight lines, but the intersections and varying widths between them give the illusion of curves.


Here I have taped down a piece of interfacing above the printed pattern and begun tracing. I used a Prismacolor art marker for this because of their permanence; I have had Sharpie markers inexplicably bleed on me when I have wetted the item I used them on. The lines are red because that was the first marker I found.


All the lines are traced and now its ready to be ironed to the back of my material!


I used a press cloth on top of the fusible interfacing out of habit. My old iron had temperature issues and get really really hot sometimes so a press cloth was imperative to prevent melting synthetics (like the interfacing) and to provide a barrier between the facepalte and the fabric because of all the melted-on schmutz. My new iron does not have either of these problems, but I still use a press cloth whenever synthetics are concerned. The new iron's steam-producing capabilities also came in handy for helping the layers heat through and the glue to adhere to the fabric really well.

Now on to Step 2 of the instructions!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Nomadic Plantswoman is Nonplussed, or Time to Fight Dirty


Japanese beetles. Their ability to reduce avid horticulturists and weekend hobby gardeners alike to tears of frustration and desperation is renowned in various eastern and southern areas of the U.S. I have read and heard accounts of entire rosaries, vineyards and orchards infested to the point of aerial fumigation back when that was still a-ok and couldn't possibly harm anyone as long as they stayed inside.

Since late May I have been marveling at the very large beetles flying across the lawn; I would call them huge but I have experienced, involuntarily, fully grown male hercules beetles far too close for comfort and those are what I now consider huge beetles despite my knowing even larger varieties do exist. I have seen as many as eight of these inch-long, iridescent creatures transversing the 8-12 inches just above the grass in a manner that strikes me as extraordinarily vulture-like in its circuitous and seemingly searching qualities. Their dance has entertained me most mid-mornings since early summer as I water the garden and pick off the caterpillars that come from nowhere to devour the basil and the tomatoes. Had I known then what I do now, I would not have been sitting in the deck chair sipping my morning tea but rather chasing them around with a net and a jar full of soapy water.


Never in my life have I experienced Japanese beetle infestation in my garden areas or the lawns where I have lived even though the map above shows these pests spread over all areas of the country I have lived and gardened in the last decade. I had to move to the American South for that. And boy howdy are there lots of them in my backyard!

I had not suspected the shimmery green beauties to be the source of any of my recent gardening woes here until I actually witnessed a smaller version of the lawn-dancers eating holes in a young tomato leaf this morning. I thought all the holes in the tomatoes were from flea beetles - which I have been spraying insecticidal soap for every evening - and possibly the occasional hornworm I hadn't been perceptive enough to locate and remove before it got thumb-sized, but no, apparently not. And these things have a just-shrug-it-off reaction to the insecticidal soap even when I make it with twice the concentration of ammonia and soap. Not amusing, little green beetle. Not. Amusing. At all.

The University of Kentucky recommends that I use carbaryl, which is completely out of the question, or any number of other synthetics to keep them from eating the garden plants for a couple of weeks. Neem and pyrethrins are also mentioned briefly, but not recommended as they would apparently not last as long or be as effective as the others. Well, effective only short-term or not, I have neem. I used it to control cabbage worms and powdery mildew back in St. Louis; 'cause nothing else was working for me then, either.

Oh, I suppose I could make up some tobacco tea and try that out, but it smells nasty, I always feel ill when I make it and it's deadly to all lifeforms (except apparently certain molds), including humans, and is easily absorbed through skin so I only use it as an absolute, last-ditch option. I'll be neem-spraying the entire garden at dusk tonight; and possibly running around the yard with a net tomorrow morning trying to catch, and subsequently drown in soapy water, as many shiny, green, garden-destroying, vulture-behaving insects as possible. Maybe I can kill enough of them to make pretty beetle wing embroideries or maybe jewelery

Friday, July 16, 2010

P{L} AY IT FORWARD


I agreed to join Sand&Starfish for a pay it forward pledge
I will make a handmade gift for the first 3 interested people who comment on this post.
I have 365 days to do it in… (I know that seems crazy, but sometimes life gets us a little behind on plans)
What it will be and when it will arrive is a total surprise!
The catch is that you must participate as well! (Another caveat for mine is that I cannot afford international shipping, so U.S. participants/claimers only, please.)
And… you must have a blog. (How else can we keep this thing going?!)
After you leave your comment here, I’ll contact you to get your address and then you must must MUST continue the “pay it forward” swap and post it on your blog. You’ll have 2 days to do this. If you don’t, I’m gonna have to give up your spot. You could even copy and paste this post in your blog!
Doesn’t it sound like fun?! Good luck!

Recipe Friday: Insecticidal Soaps

flea beetles and flea beetle damage on tomatillo plant

A few weeks ago I noticed tiny holes all over my tomatillo plants. I also noticed tiny black beetles that would jump away whenever I tried to pick one up. It didn't take long to put the two together. Flea beetles seem to come out of nowhere to destroy many common garden plants and are a pain to get rid of. Insecticides like rotenone and carbaryl (Sevin dust) work pretty well, but I don't like using them. This is partly because they are indiscriminate killers - honeybees, mantids and other beneficial creatures are also killed by them as well as fish and crustaceans once they reach the water supply - and also because they are harmful or toxic to me if they come in contact with my skin or if I breathe the airborne dust. The EPA lists carbaryl as a likely human carcinogen and rotenone has been linked to Parkinson's. My family history already puts me at a moderately high risk of developing neurodegenerative diseases and I don't know about you, but I would rather let the bugs have part of my garden than put more carcinogens into the water supply and on my foods than commercial farming operations do already. Enter insecticidal soaps. 

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Sashiko Tutorial Follow-Along Participation


Still waiting on the first email delivery of tutorial instructions and gathering all relevant materials, but I am participating in Sashiko Stitchers tutorial and stitch-along. There are several other individuals who are also participating (Theresa, Patchworkrose, Jenni, Lis, Dot, and I'm sure there are others). I've been looking into sashiko a bit for several months now, but have not yet tried it out so this should be fun. I'm also looking forward to seeing what the other participants make.

One Word Wednesday


poof

Friday, July 9, 2010

Recipe Friday: Fresh Strawberry Pie


delicious and fast homemade strawberry pie

It is berry season. Strawberries are pretty much done in the south part of the country while their season is in full swing further north. Blueberry season is also going strong and I'd imagine a mixture of both berries or one with just blueberries using this recipe and substituting the gelatin flavor accordingly would be great. If you grow your own berries you may find yourself trying to find ways to use or preserve your bounty before they spoil as berries do not tend to keep very well for more than a day or two. Don't get me wrong, I love a good freezer jam, and they're easy to make also, but this pie recipe is tasty and quick too.

Pies are a great way to use a bunch of berries before they go bad. They're generally fairly easy and fun to make, but this one is especially fast to make and not labor-intensive at all. I make a darn good pie crust myself, but this recipe can also make use of pre-made crust from the freezer section of the grocery which is helpful if you haven't mastered pie crust making yet yourself. Top it with homemade whipped cream for a super-awesome-special treat. We topped ours with ordinary nondairy whipped topping and it was so yummy, I didn't even get to take a pic of it plated.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

In what time signature is static?

Thank you, sir, for everything you did.

Thursday is usually recipe-making and picture-making day in preparation for Friday posts. This week's Recipe Friday was going to be about making non-dairy milk alternatives (rice and almond) at home without special equipment or ingredients; however, it will now be a tutorial for making fresh strawberry pie instead. I already have it written and do not much feel like cooking or photographing anything today; both kitchens and cameras are difficult to navigate through tears.

I found out this afternoon that one of my most esteemed mentors has passed. There are three, maybe four people I look back on and think to myself

'That!
Yes.
That.
Right there.
That is what an educator should do!
That is what an educator should be!
That is part of who I want to be and what I want to bring to my students.'

It is nigh impossible to explain how much these few individuals have helped to shape my knowledge and habits, thought processes and personality, providing assistance and encouragement when it was most needed both academically and personally. I know, having witnessed comments and stories told by fellow classmates, that I am not alone in this.

I know I am not the only one that would not have received my degree without having had certain papers and waivers signed, without my knowledge, by a one Dr. Leonard Ott. There are several who remember an 8am rendition of the Beggin' Strips commercial as well as how we could easily stall for time if we as a group had not been able to complete our nightly assignments by asking about cats and how was his lately? We learned about rondo form, diminished sevenths, fundamental harmonic progression and the dangers of parallel fifths as well as how to read and use figured bass.

His greatest impact on me, personally, was 20th Century Music Theory. I distinctly remember him blaring static at the entire classroom, slowly turning the volume down, looking at us with the biggest smile and brightest expression imaginable to ask, with great merriment, "What's the time signature?" A close friend who also recalls this class period described him as gleeful. And I could swear he had danced as he asked.

That one question forever altered the way I think about and experience music. (It also subtly altered the way I see the world in general.) Sure, sure, music comes in two types; song and dance, whatever, but what time signature do you use for static? That I actually enjoy listening to Cage, Kirchner, Schoenberg and the Second Viennese School would not have been a possibility without Dr. Ott. The same class also furthered my fascination - then, near obsession - with the bizarreness and creative genius of Percy Grainger, but that's a story for another time.

I do not yet know if transportation and financial means will allow, but I would like very much to attend services; one does not gain or lose mentors like this every day.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Friday, July 2, 2010

Recipe Friday: Black Bean Burgers

Dinner outside tonight; an overturned watering bucket becomes impromptu dinner table.
Black bean burgers, tomato rice, cut up tomatillo, lots of hot sauce.



This recipe as written will make up a very large amount of burgers. As such, it is great for gatherings and parties. They also freeze exceptionally well. So if you are looking for a way to not have to heat up the house or turn on the grill every time you're hungry this summer, this recipe is great. It contains lots of good for you foods including carrots, garlic and grains in addition to the beans. The burgers can be eaten on buns or just as they are with whatever sides you enjoy. More often than not, we do not have buns or bread in the house so we do the latter. This recipe is also exceptionally flexible to personal taste as the spices and spice amounts used can be altered or substituted ad infinitum.

Feel free to halve or quarter the recipe as written as it really does make a lot.

As for next week's Recipe Friday edition, would you rather read about fresh strawberry pie or making your own rice and almond milks?

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Happy Thursday!, or, I Totally Want To Be My Great-grandmother When I Grow Up

New masthead made from photo of great-grandmother's quilt top


Happy Thursday to you!

In celebration of this particular Thursday (for no particular reason than it is Thursday) I have finally taken the time to understand Blogger's new template design options, created a new masthead, made some delicious food and marveled at what came out of my dye pot yesterday.

The new masthead features part of a quilt top made by one of my great grandmothers (Dad's mom's mom). I'm not sure about the fabrics in this particular shot, but she was a master of reusing and re-purposing textiles. She would dye items that weren't to her liking color-wise, making use of onion skins and other kitchen scraps as well as walnut husks and other natural dye sources. Many of the fabrics in her quilts were meticulously hand cut, using tiny templates, from feed and flour sacks as well the occasional bit of still serviceable cloth from otherwise worn out shirts and dresses. I have many photos of quilt tops, embroidered tablecloths and a smocked pillow cover my great-grandmother made; taken while I was in Arkansas mid-June for a family reunion. They will be going into a post entirely of their own in the near future.

On the delicious food front: Why, oh, why did I wait until now to try making fried squash blossoms!? So delicious! And I had to wait until I was 28 and lactose intolerant to figure this out. Oy! Perhaps they would be equally as delicious filled with a spiced tofu-based mixture as they were filled with marinated feta. I basically followed the linked recipe when most of the HUGE container of feta Corey bought at GFS was consumed and the mostly unoccupied tub was taking up too much space in the fridge. Minus the peppercorns and the fresh herbs part as mine were all dried.


Stuffed with marinated feta, fresh squash blossoms are battered (top left) and fried (bottom left) to go with breakfast including scrambled eggs and pumpernickel bread.

I used the 3 male blossoms that opened this morning; cut them off even before the bees got to them as the plants have been treated for squash borers and I would prefer they spend their energy healing themselves and sprouting new roots where I had to cut them open instead of putting up new flowers. If the squash borers won the battle I will not be getting any squash anyway as the plants will die off, but if I won then a few days' delay in zucchini production is worth it. I'll know who won in a week or so.

And now for the most exciting part of the day so far: Dye pot results! I have been collecting yellow onion skins since March. We go through an average amount of onions I suppose. One or two a week on average though sometimes many more depending on the menu. Once I had accumulated a spaghetti sauce jar full enough that I couldn't cram any more skins in, it was time to set up the crock pot overnight (outside on a night with no chance of raining) to make onion skin dye.

Onion skins soaking in crock pot to make dyebath.

After cooking in the crock pot overnight, onion skins were skimmed out and fabric was added. The camisole is 100% nylon and took a bright, mottled yellow from the dye. The other item is 100% cotton unbleached muslin that was mordanted with alum. It took darker yellows, golds and light browns from the dye. Both were submerged and soaked in the dyebath (which I conducted in the crock pot in order to apply heat without scorching) simultaneously. The crowding of fabric is what led to the heavily mottled coloration of both items. The nylon camisole was not mordanted at all and, frankly, I am surprised it took the dye like it did. I was under the impression that nylon, like most synthetics, was not dyable without special chemicals and equipment.

Onion skin dye on unbleached cotton muslin mordanted with alum and on unmordanted nylon camisole.

Surprised at the effect onion skin dye had on a nylon camisole, I rummaged through dresser drawers until I found a neglected slip. I don't get to wear dresses very often, but I'm not really a fan of white or (in this case) very pale pink in general so I tried a graduated dye from the bottom up. This one did not photograph nearly as well no matter what I tried. It is difficult to see in the first photo and the second is out of focus but gives an excellent idea of the overall dye effect and coloration. This one doesn't have a contents tag (consequence of being thrifted) but I would guess if it isn't 100% nylon it is still a very high percentage as the cloth feels approximately the same as that of the camisole. The slip was also mordanted with a mild milk solution as I read somewhere that onion skin dyes work better on protein-based fibers and fabrics than anything else. I don't think my current result support that, though, as the nylon camisole took the dye fabulously and by the time I dyed the slip most of the dying power had been used up already.

Hand dyed slip




Gorgeous graduated color dyed onto bottom hem of slip.

It was so exciting (!) pulling these out of the crock after leaving them to sit in the vinegary, salted water of the onion skin dye. I imagine the feeling of exuberance and wonder over watching something so pretty and changed emerge from a pot has not changed much over the centuries that people have been dying things. I used to tell people I wanted to be an adult when I grew up. Now I have a new answer. I totally want to be my great-grandmother when I grow up.
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