Monday, July 23, 2007

Swimsuit, check. Sunblock, check. Embroidery Project, Knitting Project, Sewing Project, check.

It's vacation time again. Every year we travel to the coast of Maine for a week or so with Andrew's family. After having spent four years in Maine as a college student, I can say that the summers there are well-deserved and I'm glad I get to take advantage of it:) My two favorite things about our vacations in Maine are searching endlessly for sea glass (of which there is a plethora) and eating a lobster roll at the joint down the street from the house we stay in. It's a seriously good lobster roll and when I'm having a bad day during the school year, it's the happy place I go to. Perhaps this year I'll manage to reach my goal of eating my body weight in lobstah.
One of our traditions over the past few years has been to start reading the HP aloud in the car that was released that summer (our vacation always coincides with this event, which is nice.) So I received my pre-ordered book on the 21st and am probably the only person in the world who has not yet even OPENED it. That will occur ceremoneously in the car as soon as we get on the highway. 'twill be bittersweet.
In muggle news, yesterday I volunteered at a local historic site teaching kids how to cross stitch. First of all, it's really refreshing to work with younger kids once in a while. Girls and boys alike happily dove into the needlepoint and despite the fact that some had a hard time keeping the needle threaded or figuring out how to poke the needle through the correct hole, they all kept plugging along and were happily occupied working with their hands. One boy struggled so much that he ended up wrapping up his floss around the square of fabric I gave him. His project turned into a sort of three dimensional project that was loosely based on the idea of cross stitch, but was so cool because of that. I encouraged him to keep working on the wonky thing and he did so with no fear. I miss those days of creating things without a care in the world and love the times that I manage to get back into that zone when I craft now as an adult. Anyway, I snapped a cell phone shot of Abigail learning...she picked a really wonderful apple green color and went to town. It felt good to pass it all on...

And a parting shot...what things do we all check off on the list before leaving for vacation? Planting the carrots, of course!
So I'll be out for about a week, but will come back with good photos and stories. Promise.

Things You Have to Plan For

As much as I'd like to deny it, the summer is dwindling away. A teacher friend told us recently that summer vacation is like a weekend: June is Friday, July is Saturday, and August is Sunday. Well, Sunday is coming and therefore it's time to acknowledge the inevitable (at least a little). So, we bought out academic planners this weekend. Every year I wait until the very last second to get one, but this year we were more on the ball, so I could actually complete a project I've always wanted to do: the cover for the planner. I basically did it with no pattern or measuring which made it extra fun and a little dicey at one point, but here it is.The fabric is the most beautiful barkcloth that I bought from Reprodepot a hundred million years ago. I've already made a knitting needle cozy with it and you might remember it from this money belt I made. I still have a fair amount, but it's dwindling. Therefore, I'm not insanely picky about where the the pattern ends up when I'm working with it (I'm just slightly crazed about it at this point,) so the front cover ended up a little plain. But some serendipitous moments occurred too, like this fish swimming up on the back cover, and the little guy on the linen tape peering over the fence at him. And here's a close up of that tape, because it's so flippin' cute. I really fell in love with it because I'm partial to black cats (I live with two) but the whole design is really darling. I put the ribbon together with velcro, because by the time we get going in September, I'll be in and out of that planner with ridiculous speed.
And another favorite part for me is this little pocket for lunch money that I put in the front (it was also an easy way to get good placement of the fish.) And I used this opportunity to try out one of my fancy decorative stitches on my relatively new machine. Be prepared to see much decorative stitching in the was crazy-fun. Of course, it meant that in all of my non-measuring I had to trip the sides of the planner cover to fit in once I'd added the decoration, but after a few moments of the crafter's panic mantra: I-just-almost-finished-this-and-then-I-had-to-take-it-one-step-further-and-now-it-might-be-ruined, I managed to work it all out. So take that, August! I'm ready for you.

And while I got lost upstairs making my planner cover, Andrew got lost with his Sumi set.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

With Full Orchestra

This past weekend, we went to one of the most beautiful concerts I've been to in a long time. The Decemberists were playing with an orchestra at a faboo outdoor theatre we have here. I think that the Decemberists' music is already pretty flippin' gorgeous to begin with, but backed by an orchestra, they almost made me cry. So, so pretty. Also, something about an orchestra makes people stay seated at concerts. Sadly, once I hit 30 I was pretty much done with standing up at concerts so staying seated was OK by me. My young whipper-snapper students don't believe me when I say it'll happen to them, too...but mark my words young folk: the day will come when you too will want to sit on your rump and just listen to the music!!!

On another note...while in Lancaster, Andrew and I went to the big Ten Thousand Villages they have out there. We're talkin' BIG. With a cafeteria. And a huge selection of Oriental carpets. The real deal, hand knotted, some with hand-dyed wools...all created by adults paid fair wages. How can we NOT support such a noble cause?

The very nice people there humored us and took us through their stack of big rugs. We're in the market for a carpet for the dining room ever since we painted it Adobe Orange (Benjamin Moore - I love you) and it needs to be big enough so that we don't fall over the edge when we lean back from our hugely satisfying home-cooked meals. There were a number of rugs at Ten Thousand Villages - Persian styles with many, many knots and therefore interesting designs, Tribal styles with more geometric or floral patterns, and my favorite version of Tribals, the Chobi style. These are the rugs made with hand-dyed wools using natural products so the colors have depth and character. And, true to form, I managed to like one of the most time-consuming (and therefore expensive) types of rugs. If you want to have a look-see, there are a few of our favorites here, here, and here. Get going over to my shop so that we can start saving up for one...
And on tap for today in the kitchen...rosemary lemonade...hmmmm...we'll see...

What A Well-Trained Pig

Andrew and I took a trip out to Lancaster to visit a family friend of his overnight. When we arrived, we realized she had made a reservation for us for two nights, so we worried about Alpha a little, but then decided all would be well for one extra day. We could have called Megan, but she's in the middle of abandoning us running away skipping town moving and we didn't want to bother her. When we pulled up to our house this afternoon, I said "who brought in the newspaper?" and Andrew said "who brought in the trashcans?" and when we got to the mailbox, we both said "who brought in the mail?" It all became clear, however, when we got inside to see Megan's guinea pig perched happily on our dining room table with a note that said he needed a place to stay until the move was over...the pig did it!

So we have a new cutie-pie friend for a day or two. The cat's not too thrilled, so she's keeping a close eye on him. I'd say she'd better go clean the windows or something, because we're liable to fire her and hire the pig.
Lancaster was lovely. I love being around all of the farmland and seeing Amish and Mennonite communities living simply and beautifully. There is nothing like driving around where horse and buggies are a common site and where quilting is a prized art form. One trip to Intercourse, PA (yep...and the locals say it with a straight face, too) drained my bank account but increased my fabric stash. Here's a run-down of the loot -

Insanely luscious hand-dyed wool scraps that are making me flip OUT. Possible flower brooch material???
A goodly amount of fat quarters for whenever the small-quilt bug bites again.Hello! Crazy-cute reproduction fabrics!!!A punchneedle and pattern to try punchneedle embroidery. And as a bonus, the revelation that the vintage embroidery pieces that I used in my vintage patch tote and vintage patch pouch is punchneedle! I'd thought it was lots of little french knots. And, from nature, these wonderful leaves picked up at the Ephrata Cloisters. There seems to be a serious Japanese Beetle problem in Lancaster, but when they create treasures like these, it's hard to be TOO mad at them (at least it's not MY garden...)A closeup of beetle handiwork:
Now, what craft to tackle first??

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Summer Quilt Day

Yesterday was the semi-annual quilt day at Nancy's church. This is my third time going, and so it's my third small quilt. I originally picked the smaller sized quilt projects feeling that they were more manageable and knowing that I could do the actual quilting myself. Of course, I love complicated/visually interesting patterns, so that means teeny tiny pieces. Lots of cutting, lots of sewing and ripping out and resewing so that that points (sort of) line up. One quilter came up to me late in the day as I was fussing over some little triangles and said, "your work international hand gesture for 'fussing over little triangles')" and I replied: "....anal?" I've graduated to referring to myself with the slightly less graphic "OCD," but it's all the same no matter how you dress it up. So here's my latest fuss:I'm pleased with the balance between the neutral linen (I used the tea stained linen that I made for Sophie's present - huh, which I still haven't posted in its finished state yet). I hemmed and hawed quite a bit over whether to organize the colors to form concentric rings, or to make it more random-seeming (there is a pattern there, FYI!) and I'm happy with the choice to mix the colors up. I really made this on the fly, so I wasn't too keen on the yellow at first. I had brought my second quilt and proceeded to carry out the tedious task of ripping out the quilting I had started and botched (lesson learned: cut the backing fabric AFTER you do the quilting, and don't get too crazy with tight quilting patterns on small quilts because it's not necessary - oh, and baste like mad so that your fabric doesn't fold over and pucker as you go!) but that was soon driving me nutso. I had brought this pattern , and then just looked around to see what fabric scraps I had brought. I had another purplish FQ but it wasn't washed and all the others were, so I went for the yellow instead. In the end, that little bit of yellow makes me pretty happy.

I learned a lot this time around. Just from practice and trial and error, some things to remember include:

- when sewing a strip together, start in the center and work your way out.

- measure from the new seam to see where you should stitch to give the square the proper dimensions. Although I take a LOT of time cutting and being really particular about it, my measurements tend to get wonky FAST once I start sewing. And also,

- when leaving quilt day, remember to take your rotary cutter so that you can finish adding the side panels to your quilt top when you get home. Duh.

And a great bonus of quilt day is the door prizes. I have never won, but finally did yesterday and got these fabulous minty-green FQs. They came from one of the quilters who had made up a quilt in this ovarian cancer awareness fabric and as she held it up I thought: man, that mint green is making me happy...and then I got lucky and won some of it. I am especially in love with the left-most print with all of those doodly circles.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Minty Fresh!

One of the best parts about summer is that Andrew and I have the time to hang out and be creative in the kitchen. Between the bounty of fresh veggies from our CSA and home garden and the time we have to look up recipes and try new things out, we eat pretty well from June to September. And so, in honor of our glorious summer vacation, I present you with our kick-butt, newly invented recipe of mint chocolate chip ice cream. If you don't have an ice cream machine, run - don't walk - to your nearest kitchen supply store and GET ONE. This is worth it.

Drum roll, please.................

Andrew and Kristina's Minty Fresh Chocolate Chip Ice Cream:

Besides a handy ice cream machine, you will need:
2 C whipping cream
2 C half and half
1 C sugar
8 to 10 longish sprigs of mint (I picked these from my garden so I wasn't really counting - just get a bunch, I don't think you can over-mint this ice cream). Leave the leaves and all on the stems.
2/3 C (or so) of chopped up really good dark chocolate. Do not offend me by using crap chocolate, this is a serious recipe here, folks.

On low heat in a saucepan, heat the whipping cream, half and half, and sugar until sugar dissolves. Continue heating slowly until the milk gets fairly warm. You are not aiming to boil the milk, but just get it hot enough so that when you put the mint in, it'll really help get the flavor out. Take the milk off the heat, dunk the mint in, cover and let cool in the fridge for a while (we forgot about it overnight).

When cool, remove the mint stems and squeegee the milk off of them. We meant to add a teaspoon or so of vanilla at this point but forgot...we'll give it a try next time.

Freeze according to the directions on your ice cream machine

At the end of freezing, stir in the chocolate chips, then put ice cream in freezer to harden up. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Hoo Boy.

Every once in a while I need a day to myself. A day where I have little to no human contact. A day where I stay in my pjs and don't shower and watch lots and lots of crappy TV. It's best if Andrew isn't around to see me on such days, so they happen on the rare occasion when he skips town. He's off on an overnight golfing trip with his brother, so today was my day. I sat in the craft room all day and made some necklaces and a bunch of fabric brooches. I'm not sure why I'm so into brooches these days, but I am. I think it's because I've had this book lying around for a while. I periodically picked it up and flipped through it and I think a million little seeds were sown and finally started to germinate. Anyway, hop on over to the shop if you want to see the brooches I've been cooking up. Well, OK, here's my current favorite one:
Anyway, besides the crafting, web surfing, and cold pizza eating, not much was happening around here. Then about an hour ago, I'm sitting on the computer (from the computer room I can see the street) and a truck goes by. Then a big crash. Then all of the wires on the street sag really low. Hm. Somehow the telephone pole was hit and broke. It wasn't a very big truck, so I'm not sure how it snapped way up there, but the point is that in order to see this I had to be on the porch. And the other people in my neighborhood were out to see the fuss, too. Luckily, a little earlier, I had passed the point of unwashed where I actually grossed myself out, so I was freshly showered. The funny part was that I walked out onto the porch and found a virtual sea of packages. I guess I'd ordered a few things in the past few weeks and they ALL came today. And if this truck hadn't killed my telephone pole, they'd have been sitting there all night.

Good thing they weren't though, because my package from Reprodepot came. Hoo boy. I could drop a lot of cash over at that place if I'm not careful.
AND they had a sale on just to make my life more difficult. But I got some sweet German reproductions and some beautiful shot cottons that are hand dyed and make me all googly eyed when I use them.

I also got my Amazon order...this book which will probably make me unable to eat even more (as it is, I can't eat meat if I don't know how it was raised...and not many restaurants get grass-fed beef), but which, I'm happy to say, looks more like a guide book than a thick text book that's going to make my head hurt. I also ordered a few Elliot Smith CD's because why sit around and be HAPPY all of the time? Elliot'll help bring me down. Oh! And a fabulous shirt dress from j crew. I know, I unoriginal to shop there. But I first saw this dress during hell week of My Favorite Year. The show was set in the 50's and I actually wore a shirtdress for a costume, so I just fell in LOVE with this one that I found at j crew. They only had it in Barbie Doll size or in a version with a weird ruffled front on it, so I just forgot about it. This was months ago (April!) and it just popped up on their final sale AND it was in my size AND it was crazy cheap.

And that, my friends, is the bounty I found on my porch this evening. Let's give it up for online shopping.....

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

A New Addition

Yesterday we went to the pet store to pick up some filters for the cat bowl (yes, our cats drink filtered water - don't ask) and we came home with a Beta fish. I had had these fish off and on when I was a kid and always loved them. I've been thinking about getting one for a while now, and every time I'd go to the pet store, I'd check out the Betas. And yesterday, this guy just grabbed my attention. It's a little difficult to get an underwater shot, but his body is fairly neutral while his fins are a pinkish reddish with red spots. I've never seen spots on a Beta, but then my interests as a child were with the really garish purple and magenta and blue ones (which still are beautiful to me in a flashy sort of way.) So for under $10, we went home with a new pet, his house and food.

In the car, I was silently thinking of a name for him and for some inexplicable reason "Alfonzo" was jumping into my head. Andrew said, "so have you thought of a name for him yet?" and I replied by asking what he was thinking. He suggested Alpha (so that we could have Alpha the Beta fish) which, with my Alfonzo, worked perfectly.

Apparently, Andrew and I are at that disturbing part in a relationship where we're thinking the same thing. Eep.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

kdmade On The Road!

First off, let me apologize for the poor photos in this post. When you take your wares out to a craft show, it's just really hard to control the lighting!

Yesterday we took the shop into Philly to participate in a craft show on Broad Street. Yep, they closed down the road and we sat down right in the middle of it. kdmade stops traffic! They set us up with faboo tents, but before I had my table set up they sealed us in around the three sides of the tent and there went my natural light...but at least you can get an idea of what it all looked like.

I had my goods pretty much tagged an organized for this short-notice show because I'd taken it all to another show a few months back. Of course, that didn't stop me from running around the day-of to take care of last minute details.

What details, you ask? Oh, little ones such as finally printing the t shirts I've meant to do since school let out.
And sewing the pin backs onto the new brooches I made. And making a sign for the tent.
(Yay for printing with potatoes!!!)
And getting materials for said projects. Sheesh. Everything worked out smoothly though, which only proves that I should craft more under the constraint of a time limit. If I'm given all the time in the world I will fuss over the minutest little points; but given a time frame, I'm all business:)

made. by k.d.