30 July 2006

south pacific apron

A Bali Ha'i apron for Tie One On. I have to say the musical challenge was a tough one for me. Because I am a total musical dork. I love them all. Can't think of a single exception. Because where else in life is it perfectly acceptable to spontaneously bust out in song with maybe a bit of tap-dancin' to go with it?

At first I was going to do an Adelaide apron, all glitzy ritzy 50s style. Then I was going to make Jennie a Madame Librarian apron. But then I saw this fragment of island luau-y fabric in my stash and I knew there was only one musical apron in my future. I won't say South Pacific is my absolute favorite musical; I find it a bit overly melodramatic. But the music is so classic. I mean, Some Enchanted Evening. That's all I have to say about that.

I didn't have much of the luau-y fabric so I added the ruffle. This kind of makes it look like one of those skirts that are so popular with the tweens nowadays. Apparently there's a little shriveled-up old lady inside me that thinks "the CLOTHES these young people wear today. Might as well run around naked. In MY day, we dressed properly." But I try to ignore that little old lady inside of me because those little tweens should be able to enjoy their little tween stick legs. Puberty will bless them with hams soon enough.

That fabulous fabric flower is courtesy of Blair's wonderful tutorial. So easy and so beautiful, I'm gonna make more.

Jennie exacted a high toll for the hula pose in the top picture. She's becoming one expensive model. Soon we'll be moving out of baked goods and into cold hard cash.

29 July 2006

hans and felix

I've discovered the joy of fusible stablizer. I got this stuff called WonderUnder (from an online company called joggles. i really like to say "joggles." joggles. hee!) And oh, the possibilities. I got out my box o' scraps and started ironing and cutting. Oh, my, what fun. At first it was going to be a kind of abstract thing, but I liked the trees. Then I decided to put a gnome in the trees. Then I decided the gnome needed a friend. And then, of course, the gnomes needed a little house. The scrap of fabric I used as a base happened to be kind of pennant-shaped, so I made it a pennant. I named my gnome friends Hans and Felix. (It's a bit hard to read, innit? It says "deep in a forest live the dwarves hans and felix." Click the image and you can see it a bit bigger.)

Hans is a hard worker, tilling and wheelbarrowing and generally working very hard while Felix frolics in the woods.

I think I would like to live in their little cottage. I had so much fun with this project. I think I might have to continue my experiments with the wondrous WonderUnder.

25 July 2006

soup man peach turnovers

Across the street from our office is a soup man. He sells about 20 different soups daily in his tiny shop. We love the soup man. He's no soup Nazi. He's a kind-eyed and quietly smiling man who is very generous with his soup. Also his cookies, which he will tuck in the bag when you're not looking. He's Mexican, and when you ask him for Mexican Meatball, he points to himself and says, "You want this?!" Funny every time.

The soup man gives you a piece of fruit with your soup. You don't get to choose what kind of fruit; you take what you get. Banana, apple, plum, nectarine. I don't always eat my fruit (the soup really fills you up) so I got in the habit of lining my fruit up on my desk. On the weeks I am very lazy and don't pack my lunch, my lineup of fruit can grow quite long. My coworkers started poking fun of my lineup and adding their own uneaten fruit to my desk. Last week he was giving out peaches, and by Friday this was the scene on my desk:

I packed them all up and took them home and made turnovers. I brought them in to work Monday. Now everybody is giving me their soup man fruit in the hopes I will make more confections. Not likely to become a regular occurrence.

This crust is an easy and forgiving dough--rolls out nicely and generally cooperates in a way that other recipes I've tried do not.

Pate Brisee:
5 cups flour
1/2 lb butter
3 egg yolks
2/3 cup buttermilk

Cut the very cold butter into the flour. (If you have a sturdy standing mixer, use that. If you have a food processor, use that. If you have neither, well then roll up your sleeves and have at it with a pastry cutter or two knives. The idea is to get an even, grainy texture without melting the butter.) Add the buttermilk and yolks and stir until just mixed.

This makes quite a lot of dough, probably enough for 2 full-size pies (with tops). The dough freezes well, just be sure to defrost it in the fridge until it is thawed to rolling consistency. It's great for sweet or savory pies. If you like a sweeter crust, toss in a few tablespoons of sugar.

For the insides, just about any fresh fruit is good. For the peaches, I added a couple spoonfuls of sugar, some fresh grated nutmeg, and about a tbs of flour. You can't really go wrong here.

Brush the tops with a mixture of 1 egg and a drizzle of water. Sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes.

Twin doesn't like peaches. Crazy, right? But she put her lower lip out and looked so pitiful, so I made her a mini apple pie instead.

23 July 2006

aaaaas yoooooouuuu wiiiiiiish!

It is very rare that my Mom actually asks me for anything. She is the most generous woman I know—possibly generous to a fault with us kids. Not that I'm complaining, being on the receiving end of her exquisite taste and wanton behavior with the credit cards. I'm very lucky, and not a little spoiled.

I made a bag for Mama a few months ago from an Amy Butler pattern. Mom picked out the fabrics and it came out quite nice, but she has had trouble using it because it has no internal pockets and everything she dumps in there just gets lost in the bottom of the bag. She had seen these organizer things called pursekets and asked me if I would make one for her in coordinating fabrics. I shouted "YES!" and "I'll get right on it!!" Three weeks later, I finally got around to it. (sorry marmee)

Here it is standing up inside one of my bags. See, it holds your wallet, phone, etc in a standy-uppy kind of way around the perimeter. Then you chuck whatever other random stuff you have in the middle.

I made a little card wallet and tissue holder to go with it. The button's just for show, it has a velcro closure beneath. Also, there's a little pocket on the back for a couple cards that you can pull out without un-velcroing it. So you can whip out that credit card all the faster.

A homemade purseket for my wonderful Mama, who is as generous with her time, encouragement, and kindess as she is with her credit cards.

22 July 2006

nurse dolly

Nurse Dolly wipes fevered brows and soothes the wounded. She is strong and brave and good and gentle. And she has a smashing little uniform. This was the first of the patterns I tried—largely because my Mom had a nurse uniform for her dollies and I can remember playing with it and thinking that the cape was the coolest thing ever. I realized after getting into it that the pattern is for a 9-10" doll, and Dolly is a diminutive 8". Several frustrated alterations later, it actually fits her. The cape is still a little large across the shoulders, but still pretty darn cool.

I had to show you my difficulties with the hat. The first one swallowed her whole in a hilarious Flying Nun kind of way. I overcompensated on the second, which is just as hilarious perched on top of her head. Three times a charm, and it fits just right.

I am slightly less happy with her sundress. It's the skirt that ate Texas. Poor petite Dolly. There is so much gathering that it's kind of bunching up around her waist. Twin ever so kindly informed me that it makes Dolly look like she's got some serious love handles. The neckline also gave me no small amount of trouble, but I will spare you the details.

Despite it all, Dolly is quite happy with her new duds, as am I.

18 July 2006

i'm melting but my eBay purchases will sustain me.

I came home from work today to find my computer whirring uncharacteristically loudly, its little fan racing in an attempt to keep cool. I fixed myself a nutty fluff, and found that the peanut butter was oozy, gooey, and shiny melty in its jar. It's a little hot here.

But a little eBay goes a long way toward soothing all manner of discomfort. I got a batch of notions someone rescued from an estate sale, among it all these cool wooden spools of thread. In the bottom of the box was the dust of many years, along with a few stray beads, safety pins, and a rusted bobbin wound with brown thread. There are notations on the button envelopes like "Marshall Fields peach twinset." All of which has gotten me wondering who all this stuff came from, and wishing she knew that to me it is like a little treasure chest.

Another eBay purchase that I put to use this weekend before it got too hot was my new bundt pan. Just like my Mom's—heavy metal and all officially "Bundt" brand. I made a Sally Lunn, then a blueberry cake (above).

The heat is supposed to break tomorrow. I hope so, because I really can't keep rationalizing all this eBaying.

15 July 2006

skirts for two both

We cut and sewed these skirts months ago, when the promise of summer made us giddy for warm weather clothing. Mom was here in Brooklyn for a visit, but as our featherweight doesn't do invisible zippers, she took them back south with her to put in the zippers. She sent them back quite promptly (at least by her standards—hee hee) but then they sat on the shelf for at least a month waiting to be hemmed. I don't particularly like hemming. But besides the inevitable hemming, they were very easy to put together. Mom made the pattern from an old chino skirt that I have been wearing for years, and which has the loveliest shape, I think. (And Mom, no worries, my zipper is lying lovely and flat, you're the best!!)

And here's another classic Jennie pose. She is a very good sport to model for my pictures all the time. Coy and glam just don't enter into her vocabulary, and this pose seems to capture the charming frankness of my lovely sis. I promised her blueberry cake if she modeled for me.

Oh, and there's been some discussion of our relative girths over on Jennie's blog. I seem to recall the words "Fat Clone" being bandied about. I hereby submit the top photo as evidence that Jennie is indeed the Runt Clone. I, on the other hand, am perfectly normal-sized.

sweet summer sun

13 July 2006

a lot of piecing going on around here

In our small apartment, our dining room table is where we do everything: Twin does her proofreading, I do my crafting, bills are paid there, mail and magazines piled. Pretty much the only thing we don't do at the dining table is eat. We generally do that in the living room area, oddly enough. Probably because the dining room table is always piled high with junk.

But we spend a lot of time sitting at that table. Twin has been complaining volubly and frequently about the chairs since I moved in two years ago. They are from IKEA. They're pretty nice chairs and I have always liked the rattan seats on them. But the rattan is not very soft, and leaves that lovely pattern of lines on the back of your legs if you're wearing shorts.

Last weekend I finally got cushions made for the chairs. I was inspired by this pillow I saw on Shim and Sons, which was actually made by Tammie of Head Full of Pixies. And oh, oh, she sells them in her shop! Check it out. For mine, I didn't quilt the cushions because I was a bit lazy and preoccupied making all that piping and all those ties. The devil was definitely in the details on this one, as well as the volume—I'm not used to making four of anything.

I had some strips left over so I made a pillow for the sofa. I had a 16" pillow to cover and so of course I trimmed the pieces to exactly 16." Um...SEAM ALLOWANCES!! I am going to tattoo those words on the back of my hand. But I just sewed it up anyway and stuffed the pillow in. And it seems to fit fine, nice and plump. I guess learning to sew is a lot like learning to bake: there are certain places where you learn you can fudge the details. Don't bother sifting the flour in this recipe, but sure as heck do it for that one or it won't come out right. Ditto with seam allowances.

And since I obviously hadn't had enough piecing yet, I made a new pincushion for myself. With a little leather button. I filled it with polyfill, which I find a little too poofy. My grandmother had one I remember that seemed to be made of a dense straw fill or something of that weight which I loved. (marmee--do you still have it? What on earth is in it?) Does anyone have any good suggestions for filling pincushions? I know emery keeps pins nice and sharp, but a big pincushion filled with emery would weigh about 10 lbs wouldn't it?

I'm through with the piecing for the time being, and I am happy to report that Twin's little bum is cushioned on a cloud of softness, and her legs have nary a single unsightly line.

11 July 2006

oh, a baby on the blog

My good friend and his wife had their baby last week. She is a wee little five-and-a-half pounder. But very healthy. And here she is all nestled up under the quilt I made. I am very honored that she is sleeping so soundly under it. I hope it keeps her nice and warm. Congrats to the happy parents.

09 July 2006

turns out there is such a thing as too much chocolate.

We went to the Fancy Food Show at the Javits Center today. I scored tickets through a friend at work. 5 city blocks worth of booths full of chocolate, cheese, jams, cookies, cured meats, wine, you name it. If it's fancy wancy, it was there. We pretty much just went from chocolate booth to chocolate booth. The funny thing is most people were not concentrating on the food at all, but were engrossed by the Italy vs. France match, which they were showing on huge televisions set up around the convention center. There was a particularly rambunctious group of guys in the French food section. Big, beefy Obelix types of fellows in chef's aprons, tattoed with the colors of France, waving French flags and shouting French at the tv. The Italy section was on the far side of the convention center. Not sure if this was a conscious decision on the part of the show, but very diplomatic.

My pictures of the food show turned out really badly, but I got some good shots on our walk back to the subway. Hell's Kitchen is a cool neighborhood, and pretty much all that's left of the ghetto it once was is the name. I set up a flickr set if you're interested.

08 July 2006

besotted in june

1. orange and oatmeal. It all started when I saw that blanket (top left) from Hable Construction. Looks so warm and soft I want to cuddle up with it. The pillow (top right) is also from Hable. The card (bottom left) is from Tall Cow and the rug (bottom right) is from Anthropologie. Maybe I'm liking these colors because they have food names. And I think I'd like some chocolate to go with it.

2. North by Northwest. I had forgotten how good this movie is. Seeing it again has given me a serious crush on late 50s modern stuff, especially the architecture featured. The UN Headquarters (designed by Le Corbusier, apparently--makes me want to go visit), the oh-so-cool house of the evil VanDamme perched next to Mount Rushmore, and that train car they travel in! Why can't we travel in such style anymore?

3. Modern dollhouses. I first saw these while blog-hopping (though can't remember which blog--if you know please tell me so I can attribute the wonderful find!), they are from the Green Dollhouse Project, a competition for dollhouses devoted to the principles of sustainable design.

4. The Wailin Jennys. I heard this group last week on Prairie Home Companion and had to immediately go download their newest album, Firecracker. Beautiful, easy folk music that is a joy to listen to. Maybe not as edgy as some people like their folk, but I find it very calming and happy-inducing.

5. Lovely Design. I had seen her rolodexes before but am now in love with this print. She also does the coolest things with found paper.

6. I'm besotted with the word besotted! I think I might make this a recurring thing on the bloggio here. Maybe every month or so. Or maybe just when the notion strikes me.

06 July 2006

a bit of trim to make me smile

The garment district is a mere nine blocks north of my office. This is a very dangerous thing. Tough morning at work? Well then, I think I'll just nip up to a trim shop or two on my lunch hour. I'm still learning my way around all these shops--some are huge and warehousey while others are dark and maze-like. Liesl of disdressed's nyc crafter's guide has been a huge help in navigating my way through these shops.

And here's the little stash I came away with. I tried to show a little restraint. This way I can rationalize going back for more next time I'm having a rough day at work. It seems to be excellent therapy.

04 July 2006

totally ripped

I've been wanting to crochet with fabric strips for a while and this seemed like a nice easy project to start with. I had a coaster pattern that I was able, with only a little frustrated fiddling, to adapt for the larger gauge of the fabric strips. Ripping the fabric was fun and winding it into a big ball was even funner. I loved the ball of wound fabric. I almost wanted to stop there and just keep making balls because I thought they were so pretty. If not particularly useful.

I almost stopped after making one coaster because my curiosity was satisfied and I have a terrible tendency to want to move on to a new project before I complete the current one. But I persevered and the last three crocheted up very quickly. Now I want to make a matching trivet for the table, maybe alternating the blue check with another color and making it rectangular this time. I also think it would be so cool to make a bath mat with this method. But that would require a serious commitment, so I'll probably hold off for a while.

wimbledon update: I'm standing behind my Baghdatis prediction. Unfortunately I can't make an underdog prediction for the ladies because the four left in the draw are seeds 1, 2, 3, and 4. Why is women's tennis so much more predictable than men's? Makes it a bit less exciting. I'm rooting for Mauresmo, though. She's tough.

03 July 2006


I made a Wee Wonderfuls bear! When Twin saw the pattern book arrive last week, she said she wanted one. Surprising since this is the girl who is beginning to despair of all the "chochtkes and other shit" that is beginning to overpopulate our small apartment since I started getting into all this crafty business. Her prior rule that I can only make things for other people (thus getting them out of the house) is apparently suspended for this bear. Such is the cuteness of this bear. He is just so incredibly and irresistibly cute.

Jennie named him Bobby. He is definitely a he-bear, despite the fact that he is wearing a dress and red mary janes. The mary janes had to be red, of course, per Jennie's instructions.

But I also couldn't resist making the loafers. So now he has two pairs of shoes, as any self-respecting glam bear should.

I couldn't believe how easy he was to make. Hilary did the most wonderful job with the instructions, etc. An absolute joy of a project. If you're interested in the pattern, I believe Hilary is planning a reprint sometime soon. Check out her web site. Also check out the flickr group she set up to see more bears, kitties, and bunnies, oh my!

(Oh, and I obviously jinxed poor Andy Roddick the other day with my prediction. Sucks for him. Sucks for all the americans, actually. Great to see such a variety of countries represented though. My second underdog prediction is Baghdatis. He has a nice face.)

01 July 2006

beachy embroidery

This was my sitting-on-the-beach project over vacation. I didn't even draw it out first, just started embroidering what I saw in front of me. I had intended to have more different blues in the waves, in an attempt to capture the green-blues I saw. I had a color all picked out, sitting in my lap, when a sand crab started scuttling suddenly and very purposefully toward my beach chair. At which point I found it absolutely necessary to jump up, shreiking like a little girl and scattering everything that was in my lap across the sand. I managed to rescue everything except the green-blue floss, which must have gotten buried in the commotion. Making me both an absolute wuss about crustaceans as well as a litterbug.

I added the beach ball when I got home because I felt it needed a bit more color. I found the frame in an adorable little gift shop in Corolla.

I am generally too hypercritical of my work, so I won't list all the ways I am dissatisfied with the way this turned out, and focus instead on one thing I am happy about. I love the way that I was able to capture the surf of the waves hitting the sand. It makes me happy.

note: I've got a new banner! It's a Michael Miller fabric from Reprodepot. I'm hoping to update the sidebar a bit too. fun fun.