Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Baby Quilt in the Works...

I can't find my favorite book for knitting baby blankets (did I lend it to anyone?), so I think I'm going to try to make a little quilt. The semi-annual quilting day that I like to attend is coming up in the beginning of February, so I'm working on gathering everything together.

I'm planning on making a variation of this lovely quilt from Chickpea Sewing Studio. I'm going to make some of the colored squares out of embroidered muslin. I used mostly Wee Wonderfuls patterns, but there is at least one from Sublime Stitching (this pattern set) in there as well. Here are a few samples:
I'm a huge fan of making lots of french knots, hence the textured sheep. I actually have a punch needle, but do I use it? No. French knots are so much more...obsessive.
I still need to figure out what fabric I'm going to use for the rest of the colored squares, but I took the pattern suggestion and ordered some Kona Cotton Fabric. As for those colored squares, I promise I'm going to root around in my voluminous stash rather than order new material. Really. I am not going to buy any of this insanely great fabric. I promise...

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Shoes off!

Here I am, sitting at my computer in my lovely red slippers, blogging away. In the past year, we've adopted a noshoesinthehouse policy, spurred on in part by becoming chicken owners (let's not wear the shoes we just mucked around in in the coop when we get inside, m'kay?) and in part by my ever-increasing obsession with gross stuff not being in my house. Now listen, folks. I realize we live in a society where shoesinthehouse is the norm...but sit back and think about it for sec. That's right, really think about it. Those shoes that you trek all over the sidewalk in (which, for some reason that is completely beyond me, is a place that many people deem appropriate for their spittle), the shoes that you wore into the bathroom in the mall, the shoes that maybe, just maybe came into contact with bird poo/chewing gum/the pee of some animal when you walked to the post office (because I know you walk to the post office rather than driving there in your car). I realize that I'm not the best barometer of ick-factors (as Andrew will often remind me after I'm done freaking out about the 10 crumbs left on the kitchen counter), but for the love of scrapple, can we please all just agree that shoes do not belong on feet when those feet are inside the house?!

OK, I should mention that when I say that "we" have adopted a noshoesinthehouse policy, I really mean that "I" went nutso about it one day and because I live with The Most Patient Man in the world, he dutifully wears his slippers (at least when I'm looking). While love trumps most crazy quirks, friendship is a different story and I've been finding it difficult to look my guests in the eye while saying: "Hi! I'm so happy you are here...come in...after taking off your shoes....uh-huh, really...you can put them here...(awkward silence)...sorry I don't have an extra pair of slippers..." And I'm pretty sure that asking people to take their shoes off at the door is where Andrew will draw the limit. He'll take his own shoes off and not complain, but I think when it comes to our guests, the ball's in my court.

What to do?

Enter: Amy Karol of Angry Chicken fame to solve my problems in one clever mail order. Hello?! A pattern for house slippers so that I can actually give something to my guests so their holey socks don't have to show AND two signs to hang on the door explaining, quite politely, that a neurotic woman and her tolerant boyfriend live here and please leave your germy shoes at the door thankyouverymuch?!?!

If there are just two things I can impress upon you today, please adopt a noshoesinthehouse policy NOW (like right this second!) and go here and make up some house slippers!!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

'Tis a Fine Day.

In honor of Obama's inauguration today, I decided to make some cupcakes. Although there was a surprise two hour delay today due to icy weather, the plan is to turn my classroom into a viewing center for faculty to enjoy the festivities. Cupcakes, of course, will be a must. I'm not sure what will happen now that my exam officially ends at 12:30 rather than 10 (it may involve rushing kids through exams and pushing them out the door...), but I do know one thing: there will be cupcakes. And (OK, two things) they will be fancy.
Andrew and I ran out to get a cast iron skillet yesterday so that we could cook up an insanely expensive cut of grass-fed beef that we stole from my father's fridge (thanks, Dad). Luckily, while in the (dreaded) mall, I remembered that I've been in the market for a cupcake pan. Do you know how hard it is to find a non non-stick cupcake pan these days? Harder than finding a cast iron skillet, let me tell you. I'm trying to steer clear of the non-stick stuff since it seems very creepy to me, and so we searched high and low for what Andrew refers to as a "stick" pan. We finally found it...at Williams Sonoma. I always feel like a bit of a kitchen sell-out when I shop there, but darn it all, they had what I needed. But the best part is that I finally got myself a pastry bag and tips and OH MAN am I going to be baking up a lot of pretty things with this little device.

I used Amy Sedaris's recipe from I Like You. You can find the recipe on epicurious, too. This was the first recipe I've made from that book, and I'll be making more. You have to love cooking directions that involve "Beat(ing) until it looks like it is supposed to," and that call for an entire box of confectioner's sugar (about 7.5 cups, according to my research). In addition, there are lots of fun stories about things like caring for rabbits and how to host a proper wake, and the food photos have been made gloriously ugly with lighting that can only be described as "What Were They Thinking in the 1970s?" I halved the recipe and got 12 perfect cupcakes, but I did need to keep adding milk to the butter cream frosting to get it to the right consistency (maybe my 7.5 C estimation wasn't from the same box that Amy uses...hmm...) Anyhoo, I tossed that goop into my pastry bag and lookee here! Instant pretty!!
Just the right amount of fancy for what I know will be a good, good day.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Because what else would you do

with your chicken's first eggs but gild them?
I bought the materials to gild some drawings in my China journal (which I still haven't put up on the blog, have I?) but then lost track of the project when school started. Thank goodness I had it on hand because I REALLY needed to blow out the first eggs and make them pretty. And, oh my, is gilding fun. It's that same satisfying process as taking a shiny chocolate wrapper and smoothing it obsessively until it all the wrinkles come out. The egg shape was a little tough because you have to have some of the gold leaf overlap itself and then it gets a little messy, but the smoothing process is sooooooooo worth it. I still need to smooth these guys a little more (!) and then apply a sealant, otherwise the leaf is pretty flaky.

I blew the eggs out without any tools which involved a lot of huffing and puffing and Baby Banana (week 20!) was probably wondering what the heck was going on. I went ahead and ordered an egg blower today because I foresee not being able to crack many of Kateski's eggs and/or the need to continue on this gilding path (if I stick with eggs, that should keep me from gilding everything else in the house).

Up next: I think I might play with some Wee Wonderfuls embroidery patterns because I'm starting to think baby blankets...

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Something I didn't make.

Today is an incredible day.

After having raised her for 8 months, spending an ungodly amount of money on her when she needed stitches from the vet, removing her feathered roommates when they rejected her after she returned from recuperating, then keeping her as an only-child (who has needed to be brought indoors every night because she's too small to be left alone overnight in the cold), our chicken Kateski finally laid an EGG!

Two, actually.

It's been an insane saga with this chicken and I believe we may be the very last members of our coop group to actually get an egg. Our other two chickens (the ones who ganged up on Kateski when she returned from her surgery) never laid an egg for us, but promptly started doing so a few days after being relocated to my parents' coop. She really does spend her evenings indoors in the computer room, roosting on the edge of her plastic carrier tub or, if she really wants relax, on the massage office chair. Andrew had given up hope that she would ever lay an egg. I was skeptical, but was afraid to admit it. We both agreed that she was probably aware that we'd spent a small fortune to keep her alive so that her chances of going to the soup pot were slim...so why bother with the annoying task of actually giving us eggs??

We are expecting more chicks of her kind (docile, mostly blind because of the feathers in their face) in February who we are hoping will grow to be good coop-mates and bona fide egg layers, but I'm happy to say that, in the meantime, I can go out to my coop in the morning and get myself an egg to soft boil.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Bunny, meet Bell Pepper.

I ordered the fourth hand sewing project from Wee Wonderfuls last week and couldn't wait to dive into the project as soon as it hit my doorstep. I made the snail, turtle, and butterfly for the nieces and nephew last year and so, logically, the bunny had to be for The Bell Pepper (that's where we're at, vegetably speaking). I love these little hand sewing projects because they don't take a lot of material, so I can happily hunt through my scraps and see what goes together. While I haven't done any major sock-monkey projects (yet), I have been saving my holey socks and, lo and behold, found two pairs of cashmere socks that I had retired to the craft room a while back. Hello! Baby needs a cashmere bunny!

The body is a beige cashmere sock (note the ribbed loveliness) and the tail is from a black cashmere sock. I thought about using some felt for the tail, but then figured it would probably be an enticing thing for Bell Pepper to grab onto, so why not make it soft and shnuggly. The ear helmet part is made from some vintage wool I scored at a 4H fair a few summers back. I attached the goggles only at the back so they can be worn above the eyes or on them, which will be useful depending on the adventures the bunny gets himself into.

made. by k.d.