Thursday, June 26, 2008

Giveaways! Yes, plural!

In honor of my semi-successful craft room organization stint yesterday(I'll show some before & after pictures at another time), and the fact that I now have some things to 'get rid of', I have a giveaway. Several to be exact: 2 today and 4 in July. The July ones will have a fun theme and a twist to them so stay tuned. Today's giveaways are celebratory in nature:


#1 Giveaway: Boatload of Streamers
(well...okay a bag of streamers and curling ribbon)



#2 Giveaway: Ladybug Birthday Party Supplies
(this would fit a girl preferably)
Comes complete with hats, plates, party bags,
thank you cards, banner & stickers.


Aren't these cute? My youngest is having a bug party in August,
but these are just too 'girly' he says. Oh well.

Over the years I've collected party supply goods - picking up things here and there, accepting gifted items from others, hunting tag sales, etc. Lots of things were used for the many themed birthday parties that my kids have had, and now I just don't need as much.

So if you can use something, just leave a comment and say whether you'd like #1 or #2. I'll pick the winners next Thursday.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Playing Along


Meme, originally uploaded by pichurrayic.

I decided to play along with the Flickr Game that so many have posted. Click on the picture and you'll see my answers. Want to see the rules? Go here. Because I'm too busy with something else...

To-Do Today: Begin to Organize Craft Area

I've been procrastinating like mad about the craft area in our house (aka 'spider room' as the kids lovingly refer to it). If I didn't know better, I would have guessed that someone ransacked it while we were sleeping. Sigh. Seriously, it's no longer a creative spot (never really was since we moved here), and it's become a catch-all with piles of stuff. Presently, I'm thinking of 2 verbs that fit this scenario: dread & loathe. No, no! You tell me I should have a better attitude about it? I suppose so. At least my to-do list says begin to organize. Nothing about finishing, right? Enjoy your day. See you in about a year!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Vintage Sheets

Here is my contribution to the Vintage Sheet Swap that Oh Fransson is hosting.

3 are vintage sheets, and 2 are vintage tablecloths
(Aghast! Yes, I DID take my scissors to a Vera.)
But I mailed it just in time!

Monday, June 23, 2008

BTRS Swap: Finished!

Mixy-Matchy

After a where-did-the-weekend-go episode, I set to work on the BTRS swap. Here are the finished results: Napkins and placemats. 6 of each. I used the patterns from Amy's book.

I was aiming for a 'vintage' look so I chose tiny calico prints and a multi-striped cotton. The napkins are striped as you can see as are the backs of each placemat. On the fronts of the placemats I tried varying the prints in order to get a mix & match feel.

The back of each placemat is striped.

They turned out 'okay'. I think there are a few items I would change if I do it again. Namely, the choice of ribbon. I wanted something brown to coordinate with the brown in 2 of the fabrics, but perhaps a brown print would have been better. Hmmm...

The ribbon is a wire-edged brown.

And I think perhaps enlarging the finished size of both napkins and placemats would be helpful so that I have more latitude with seam allowances. Either that or invest in a serger sewing machine. All in all however, I'm pleased with the results. I'm definitely going to make up some more napkins. Hope my swap partner likes it! Now I just need to add a recipe to her package...

Edited: Just thought I'd update my post after reading another blogger's snafus with the placemats. I have to agree with her on one thing: the pattern needs yardage amounts listed. She ended up not buying enough fabric; I bought too much. And then I had to make another stop at the fabric store to buy additional ribbon - 3 yards more.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Thoughtful Friday 2



Those who dream by day
are cognizant of many things
which escape those
who dream only by night.

~ Edgar Allan Poe

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Sweetness

Just a few days ago I was lamenting the fact to Erin from House on Hill Road fame, that I had not been able to find strawberries to pick this year, and therefore there would be no fresh strawberry jam in the freezer for the winter. And of course after seeing this blog and this one and this one too, I was discouraged. Oh well. In New England, the strawberry season is in June. Where were are now the strawberry season is the end of May. (I noted that some of the above bloggers also posted in May, so their seasons must be earlier too.) I'm trying to remind myself of the change and embed the new berry season into my brain.

Some of the strawberry jam that actually made it into the freezer...

We did, however, have success. After rechecking a nearby place this past Saturday, we managed to pick 4 quarts of strawberries. Not the most attractive ones but good enough for jam. Heh, they're getting mashed anyway. My older two came with me to pick. A few hours later....ahhh... sweetness and contentment in the form of 10 (well 9 now - oops! make that 8 - 2 didn't make it to the freezer!) ruby-hued jars of jam! Now onto peach making...

But first...golden kiwi! Yum. They're different than the green variety. Less hairy and more sweet. Cut them in half and scoop them out with a spoon. They're also more $ than the green ones, but well worth it.

And one last sweet... coconut cigars. Enough sugar for one day!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

BTRS Swap & She's Getting Wild


A 2 hour Joann's visit, and we came home with a bag full. I bought fabric for my BTRS swap partner. I'm liking the color choices so much that I wished I had bought more. (Not that my fabric pile really needs to touch the ceiling or anything!) I hit the store on a good day - fabric, patterns & thread were on sale - I used lots of 50% coupons. Yippee.


My daughter decided on 3 fabrics for 3 new skirts (1 of which I'll sew; the other 2 she will attempt). And I have to say... she's getting a bit wild (for her) with one bright green batik pattern.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Dad's Day Celebration

Yesterday we celebrated Father's Day with cards, hot sauces (my husband loves these) and a home-cooked meal made by my older son and daughter:

Portobello Mushroom Sandwiches with smoked 'Monsterella' (as my youngest one likes to call mozzarella). I didn't have a recipe, so I made one up.

Cold Cucumber Soup (from this wonderful cookbook - but mine is the 'old' version). This is my husband's all-time favorite cold soup. His 2nd? Gazpacho. I'll have to make that one another time.

and Fresh Cherries. Yum! We also had ice cream but you know what that looks like.

Happy Father's Day, Husband! And Happy Father's Day, Dad!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Thoughtful Friday 1


A book is like a garden carried in the pocket. ~ Chinese Proverb


Cassie began Thoughtful Fridays a little bit ago, and I thought that I might join in albeit 'late'. Perhaps it can bring a sense of calm to an otherwise hectic week or help usher in a refreshing weekend.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Nice


I am really lacking in the "title your blog with something creative" right now. Can't think. Must be the warm weather and staying up until midnight the past few nights watching library movies?

I was restless yesterday (even with lots of things to do in the house mind you) so I went browsing at a local thrift store. Found this apron for 50 cents and thought it was perfect for Amy's new Gingham apron theme. My daughter suggested I send this in as a submission. I said that would be cheating but isn't it neat?

Not sure if it's homemade or store bought, old or new. I like it because it's black (of course) and I like the black chicken scratch with it. Maybe it'll provide some needed inspiration for the next apron theme. But if not, I think I'll actually wear this one!

How did I end up with 7 buttons when I only sent out 6?

My buttons arrived a few days ago. Aren't they adorable? I realized too late (didn't even occur to me) that I had an opportunity for some 'free' blog advertising and failed to take advantage of it. Notice all those nice little cards and tags with other people's blogs on them? When I sent in my buttons for the Button Swap, I just popped them into a plastic baggie and sent them on their way. Duh! Next time I'll be better prepared...

Some books I'm enjoying.
Some are repeats, some are new.
Thanks, Amber for the Uncommon Crochet recommendation!

Since we've moved here, I've paid more in overdue fines than I have for years at our previous place. I think it's because there are 3 different library systems in close geographic proximity to our house (all of which have their pros/cons) and none of them share a drop-off box! Our previous place had 1 basic system for the entire region, and I could easily pick up in one town and drop off in another. Not here! Oh well...at least my $ goes to buy new books.

My dining room table is being taken over...

And last but not least... my daughter finally pulled out her new sewing machine that Grandma and Grandpa gave her last Christmas. After showing her some basic stitches, reading and re-reading the manual (this machine is different than mine), she set to work. Her first project? A pillowcase for her American Girl doll. Her next one? A skirt for her American Girl doll. So far, so good. Now we just need to move onto something for her.

Friday, June 06, 2008

New

New red berries growing on a bush.
I'm sure the birds will enjoy them!

It's very hot here today but very beautiful. The sky is bright blue, the clouds crisp and white, and there's a wonderful wind blowing. We're waiting for my in-laws to arrive for the weekend so I thought I'd squeeze in some blog time before they get here. Didn't quite know what to name this post. 'New' seemed to fit because I wanted to share some 'new' things:

New green beans budding in one of our garden beds.


New baby radishes in the cotyledon stage.


'New' iced coffee. My morning's coffee sat in the pot unused and rather throw it out, I made some iced coffee. Good.

strawberry-pomegranate soda - yum

'New' soda. We hardly drink soda anymore except on special occasions. My children limit their intake as well (their own choice although I 'might' have had some influence there!) and my daughter hates the 'fizz' so she never touches the stuff. Better for everyone's teeth. However, we have been enjoying some Italian sodas recently. They're naturally flavored and colored and are less sweet. Very refreshing over ice. We're especially enjoying the blood orange and pear & peach varieties. I need to find some recipes to make my own spritzers. You know, the juice & seltzer kinds. Any ideas?

New 'napkins'. (above) Actually they're 'bar wipes' that I found in the seasonal section of Target. 6 per pack and summery and bright (not my colors but I thought we needed a punch after a dreary winter). I got the idea from here. (she used IKEA baby washcloths) I've been reading other posts about cloth napkins vs. paper napkins. Not sure if it really reduces anything (paper/trees vs. water/energy to wash them) but I thought I'd give them a go. Making your own cloth napkins is nothing new ~ it's been around a long, long time. However with the resurgence of handmade/homemade, I really need to make some soon. I've joined the BTRS Swap and they're making napkins and placemats this time around. Should be fun.

Here are some other napkin links:
molly's handmade napkins (tutorial)
chara michele handmade cloth napkins (tutorial)


and last but not least...

New' laundry products. After reading Molly's post, I thought I'd try some gentler cleaning goods. Some dryer balls and new detergent. We'll see.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Salad


This post is a salad post for Randi's Recipe Box Swap. I made this last week but didn't take a photo of it. It was gone before I thought of recording it. So the flower picture will have to suffice. (I don't like posting without a photo!) My mom gave me the recipe. She received it from a colleague who got it from ? Don't know, but it tastes great.

Israeli Salad
2 cukes, seeded & cubed
2 tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup radishes, sliced thin & halved
2 scallions, chopped
1 pepper, chopped
1/2 cup fresh parsley
1/2 cup black olives (pitted kalamata are good, but plain old black ones in can are okay too)
1/2 cup red onion, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt & pepper to taste

Mix all. Chill to 'marry' the flavors. This lasts several days in fridge. I ended up serving this alongside some spanakopita, homemade hummus, pita and store-bought lentil vegetable burgers (tasted like falafel). Wonderful.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Havana Apron

I'm finally able to show you my submission for Amy's Tie One On. The theme this time was Havana Nights, and besides being an adventure in sewing without a pattern (again), there was an added benefit: I was introduced to the Buena Vista Social Club's music and documentary of the same name. Very engaging and fun.

A shuffle of ruffles!

I made the apron in time for the initial deadline but hadn't taken pictures of it in its completed state. Not to worry I told myself ... Amy had extended the deadline... so therefore, I had more time to procrastinate about photographing the apron!

A welt 'pocket' technique to create slits in the top layer.

Then in late May, I realized that I better get a move on the photography and send it off to her or else.

Detail of waistband - wanted both sides to be as flat as possible.

You can go see all the awesome aprons here.

I made it reversible to show two different sides of Cuba (at least my perception of Cuba since I've never visited). The first side is utilitarian but with slits in it to give hints of what is beneath. Once the bows are untied, the utilitarian side is flipped over, and the bows are re-tied, a night of dancing is in order.

This was my most difficult apron yet. I sketched and re-sketched and figured out mathematical equations, bought the materials (had trouble finding the right width of eyelet lace), and then stood, with scissor in hand, wavering. I always hate those first few cuts. What if I mess it up? It's funny, I was rereading something in Amy's book about the various 'types' of crafters. Although I think I fit the different categories (Miser, Perfectionist, Speed Demon & Artist) to various degrees and with various projects, this apron has me now in the 'artist' category. The one where yes, there's creativity, but the possible 'inability' to re-create what I've made! Yikes.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Listening

Bird illustration drawn by Dane, 2008.

This morning I opened wide the windows and let in the breeze, the scents and the sounds of a new day. June already! I had just poured a cup of coffee and took a few moments to sit and relish the quiet beginnings. I had to really listen (which is quite difficult to do at times...) Apart from the occasional growl of a motor or squeal of a tire or toot of a horn (or train whistle), the air was filled with bird calls. All types of birds... none of which I could/can recognize. I did find this site and this site and this one to help. I think I'd like to buy a bird song cd so I can tell the differences between a swift and a robin, a morning dove and a cardinal...

Edited to add: We joined Cornell's Project Feeder Watch a month ago in hopes to do more bird watching during the coming fall and winter. That should help! You can join in too - the next round begins November 8th.