Monday, August 31, 2009

I love your smile...

Remember Shanice? Well, I've had this song stuck in my head for over a week now. It's peppy and super-catchy. I thought maybe I could pass the little brainworm on to you so that my mind can happily sing something else for a while.

Here are some things that have been making me smile lately:

Scrollwork among the trees

A happy sidewalk family

Gorgeous Noro Bonbori yarn sent to me by a dear friend who knows me well
(Thank you so much Christine. I love it!)

Sunday, August 30, 2009

And the doily pillows don't stop

Oh, what a glorious morning--one of those mornings that make you want to sing.* Our windows and doors are flung open to let in the cool, crisp air. Air sent by autumn itself as a little love letter to us, letting us know it's just around the corner. My baking this weekend has been an ode to fall, full of cinnamon, pears, and oats. September is a-knockin' and I'm inviting it right in.

After yesterday's post on all of those unfinished projects laying around, I thought I'd show you something I have finished. It's a natural-colored cotton pillow cover with a round doily sewn on the front. It has been keeping this one company on our couch. This pillow cover has an envelope back like the others I've made, but I sewed French seams on this one to keep it from raveling. I haven't had a problem with the other pillow covers raveling, but I think this one will withstand the wear and tear of the years better. Yeah, these things are totally going to be family heirlooms.

Well, K and I are off for a neighborhood walk and a picnic in a tiny nearby park. I hope the rest of your weekend is full of enjoyment!

* * * * *
*When my sister was a kid she watched Oklahoma about a million billion times. Seriously. It drove everyone else in the house kind of crazy, but she loved it. Revenge was so easy, though! Julie's not really a morning person, so crawling into her bed and singing this song loudly and oh-so-cheerfully was great payback.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Crafty Works in Progress

I've amassed quite a few unfinished objects, but can't stop myself from starting more. It's that beginning part of crafting that I love the most, though finally finishing things is indeed the most satisfying. I'm posting these works-in-progress here in hopes that it will motivate me to finish them.

These are wrist warmers that are so very close to completion. I just need to crochet the little thumb parts and sew them on. The goldenrod color is so perfect for fall!

Here's a cross-stitched napkin I'm working on. I love the pattern and color--it's pink thread on a navy blue napkin. It'll go with this one that I've already made, and I hope to eventually make a set of four.

This project I just started yesterday. You see, my favorite polo got a bleach spot on the front of it a few months ago and since then has been languishing my craft drawer, waiting to gussied up. I finally decided to applique some fabric droplets onto it. I can't wait to wear this shirt again!
I got a ton of inspiration for this applique from flickr.

I hope this Saturday is treating you well. The sun is shining and the breezes are cool here. I've got to get out and enjoy it!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Back to school

This week I've spent hours upon hours reading in the university library. There is something very soothing about finding a quiet place tucked away behind massive shelves of books. It's like having a world of my very own to fill with whatever I want. I've already had much more reading for class than I ever anticipated, but I take breaks to stretch and crochet. The campus is beautiful and bustling. I've been having lunch outside on the library steps and taking walks to explore the area.

When my eyes were drifting closed after sitting for too long, it was nice to have this little note from the previous owner of this book. It made me smile, thinking of people criticizing the poor hippos. Just leave the hippos to loll about in mud and water, people. They never did anything to you!

And in class yesterday afternoon I chose my desk based on which one had the best quotes scrawled across it. This is the one I picked (and yes, I slyly pulled out my camera and snapped a photo before class).

I hope you've had a lovely week so far and have a wonderful weekend!
I'm definitely glad the weekend is almost here. K and I are planning to do something fun, though we haven't quite figured out what that will be yet. Maybe a nice picnic or a stroll through the park. And we're going to have a movie night. I've already discovered that one perk of being back in school is being able to check out DVDs from the school library. The collection is quite extensive!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

CSA Day: We've got okra...

As he was piling our CSA box full of fresh vegetables, I asked Nick of Finger Pickin' Farms lots of questions. I quizzed him on the names of each variety of tomato and pepper. Then I promptly forgot everything he said. I don't know where that information went, but I lost it. So here's my rundown on what we're eating this week. We've got bunches of heirloom tomatoes, squash, tiny currant tomatoes, green and white cucumbers, peppers (spicy jalapenos, another spicy one, and purple, red, green, and chocolate peppers...I can remember chocolate!), potatoes, and okra.

Okra! I've been wanting to try fresh okra. We've got some growing in the garden (it grows straight up--did you know that?), but that okra is reserved for crafting Christmas ornaments. Impractical, but very cute Christmas ornaments. Nick suggested stewing the okra with tomatoes, and he mentioned that this is a rather low-slime variety. Yes, low-slime. That's always my second favorite (no-slime being #1).

These tiny tomatoes are sweet and incredibly easy to pop in your mouth by the handful.

We also bought some eggs from Misty Meadows Farm. We've bought eggs from them before, but usually they're sold out before we get to the farmers' market. I finally figured out the secret, though. All you have to do is email Misty Meadows and they'll reserve a dozen for you. I'm so happy that we'll be getting fresh eggs each week now. If you haven't tried farm fresh eggs, you really need to get yourself in gear. These eggs are bursting with flavor, their yolks are brightly colored, and they're so good for you. Plus, I love knowing that my eggs are coming from healthy, happy chickens raised on a local farm.

The egg on the bottom right is blue. So spectacular! It's the first blue chicken egg I've ever seen in person. I feel like we should make something really special with it. Any ideas?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Fair Food

Here are some pictures I snapped at the Kentucky State Fair last week with my sister. I love the colorful booths and elaborate signage. The fair continues until August 30th, so you've still got time to get out and enjoy it.

Monday, August 24, 2009

School days

Buy Handmade

Here is a collection of things to get me in the mood to go back to school.

After three years out in the world, I'm returning to college to pursue my Masters degree in literature. I have all of those same first day of school feelings that I had growing up. I'm nervous and excited, giddy with anticipation and anxiety. I've got my fingers crossed, my pencils sharpened, and my notebook open with crisp, blank pages ready to be filled.

I have a feeling today will be a very good day.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Boston Shake

Happy weekend!

Have you ever heard of a Boston Shake before? And if so, why didn't you tell me about it?
On a recent visit to Dairy Kastle I saw this on the menu, asked about it, and then just had to get one.

A Boston Shake is a shake with a sundae on top! I got a chocolate shake and hot fudge sundae combo--chocolate shake on the bottom, vanilla ice cream, then all the sundae fixings. It was divine. I'm planning to eat as many Boston shakes as I can while the weather's still warm. I hope you have equally ambitious goals!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Crochet-covered stones

I have pined for a crocheted stone since the moment I set eyes on Margaret Oomen's blog, Resurrection Fern. Crocheted stones have such a simple, natural beauty, and their circular patterns mirror nature's own designs. For me, crocheted stones represent not only beauty, but also calmness, harmony with nature, and living simply. I've gleaned a lot of joy from gathering these rocks and covering them in crocheted thread. The pattern is in the current issue of Crochet Today.


And now for a poem, in honor of stones and summer. This haiku was written around 1689 by the famed poet Matsuo Basho when he visited Yamadera, a mountain temple very near where I lived in Japan. I've included the English translation and the original Japanese, and if you follow the Yamadera link, you'll see another English interpretation. I love thinking about the subtleties of language, such as the difference between stillness and quietness. I hope you enjoy this poem as much as I do.

Sinking into the rocks,
A cicada's cry.

Shizukasa ya
Iwa ni shimiiru
Semi no koe

--Matsuo Basho

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Peach Sorbet

If you only make one frozen concoction this summer, make it this. This cool, sweet peach sorbet will cure your ills and leave you refreshed and relaxed. And maybe sticky, but you won't mind because the flavor is so mind-blowingly peachtastic.

You don't even need an ice cream maker for this. Just buy some peaches and this sorbet will practically make itself. (Ok, it won't, but you can make it happen with minimal work on your part).

Here's what you do--

You'll need: an 8 x 8 baking pan (feel free to substitute a pan of comparable size)
a blender
Ingredients: 5 peaches, peeled, pitted and roughly diced
juice of one lemon
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 Tablespoon fruity liqueur (optional, it helps the sorbet to freeze smoothly)

Blend all of the ingredients until smooth. Pour this peachy sweet nectar of the gods into your baking pan. Freeze uncovered. After an hour, remove it from the freezer and whisk the liquid around. This adds air to the mixture, so that you'll get a light sorbet instead of a giant peach popsicle. Repeat the whisking 2 or 3 more times, freezing an hour between each time. Allow it to freeze at least an hour or two more with no whisking.

Remove the pan from the freezer about 15 minutes before you want to eat it and let it soften a bit. Scoop and eat! Delightful, no?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Sand and Sea Lunch Bag

I didn't intend to make a bag today. Really, I didn't. I was making out my Christmas list* and this bag just sort of happened. I'm hoping to make most or all of the presents that I give this year, so advance planning is absolutely required if I want to get all of the presents done in time. The list-making was going well at first, probably because I started with ideas for my mom and sister. It's easy to make things for women. Then I got to K and was stumped.

But! I remembered that he takes his lunch every day to work and usually just throws a sandwich or leftovers into a plastic grocery bag. Surely, I can make something better than a plastic sack. I scoured the Internet (where I get so much of my inspiration) and found a lunch bag tutorial that was based on a grocery bag. My lucky day!

K's got a birthday coming up soon, too, so I figured I might as well dive in and see if I could make this. The exterior is a sandy tan and the interior is blue coral on a white background. It's not the most masculine bag, but it doesn't scream girly either. I figure it can tide** K over until I can make his birthday bag, at which time I'll reclaim the Sand and Sea lunch bag for myself. [edited to add: apparently the blue coral does scream girly. I guess I'll head to the fabric store.]

There's plenty of room in this bag for lunch, and it's sturdy enough to use for hauling groceries or vegetables from the market. Plus, I do think the style makes it a unisex bag. Guys carry grocery bags all the time, so they should be comfortable carrying this one around, especially if you get a solid or manly-patterned fabric.

If you're interested, the tutorial is pretty straightforward and most all of us have a plastic sack sitting around to use for the pattern. Check it out!

* * * * *

*Oh, how I love Christmas! It's definitely my favorite holiday because of all the time spent with family and all of the baking. I always make cookies with my mom and sister, and last year K and I made candy with my grandma. It's the most wonderful time of the year, and I'm glad that since I'm making my presents this year I get to start daydreaming about Christmas in August. And by the way, I've already got my Christmas wishlist made out. Hint: It's mostly craft supplies.

**The Sand and Sea bag will tide him over. Get it? That's a joke for my dad.

Color me happy, CSA Day

What we're eating this week thanks to Finger Pickin' Farms:

Carrots, white and green cucumbers, purple basil, lots of heirloom tomatoes, green peppers, squash, cherry tomatoes, and onions.

The peppers and green cucumbers have already been stuffed into sandwiches for today's lunch (bagel sandwiches with vegetable cream cheese, yay!). The white cucumbers are currently being lightly pickled. I might also try this salad idea that I found via the Phoenix Hill Farmers Market blog. It looks so good.

I don't know about you, but seeing all of that farm fresh produce definitely makes me smile.
I hope things are going your way this week!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Stacks of bread
Last week I had a marathon bread day, making 4 loaves in an afternoon. We gave away 2 loaves, and K sliced up the other 2 to keep in the freezer (this picture is only one of the loaves). I love seeing all of that bread stacked up. It represents a lot of meals!

Piles of tomatoes
And these are the tomatoes I picked on Sunday. Yeah, we've got a lot of tomatoes. I can't believe how many we've harvested so far. We've been giving them away to family, friends, and neighbors, but we still have lots laying around. The plan is to freeze them to use in fall and winter soups.

Loads of fun
This picture is from the Kentucky State Fair website. I know, it's from 3 years ago, but this year's posters were not doing it for me.

It's state fair week! I've got a fair date with my sister for opening day of the fair, which is this Thursday. We're both excited to take lots of fair pictures, eat junk food, and people-watch. Julie likes meandering through the animal barns, and I love checking out giant vegetables. Win-win! The fair runs from August 20th-30th this year. I hope you'll get out and enjoy it!

Monday, August 17, 2009

From the land of linkin'

Some things that have been inspiring me lately:

Photo from (see #5)

1. I really like being alive. A lot.
A simple and beautiful embroidery that is so true.

2. So many things I want to smell. They all sound enticing! The descriptions of the scents are wonderful.
I really want to try: Russian Caravan Tea, Winter 1972, M3 November, Gathering Apples, Burning Leaves, Just Breathe, Ocean/Eternal Return, At the beach 1966

3. Margaret Oomen and her creations in Crochet Today. After she posted this on her blog I ran out and bought the magazine. Now I can finally make some crochet-covered stones of my own, though I do have to go on a hunt for some larger stones tonight.

4. I recently started reading a blog that is beautiful and encourages readers to spread kindness throughout the world.

5. I've never actually worn a beret, but have been loving them lately. No idea why.* This one's really darling! As soon as I break down and buy the necessary yarn, I'll be crocheting up a storm to finish it.

* * * * *

*Ok, ok, I might have some idea. It might be because I love watching The Mary Tyler Moore Show on hulu. She's so cool and has such an amazing theme song.

Kitchen Curtains

Don't get me wrong, I love our kitchen. It's spacious, looks like it belongs in an old farmhouse, and gets lots of light. The problem is that we've got a west-facing window that lets in so much sunlight in the evening hours that it's difficult to be in the kitchen at all. It's the time of day when we're making dinner, so the room is already warm from the stove, and the excess sunlight makes the whole room feel like an oven. It's also hard to see! The sun is so bright that K and I find ourselves shielding our eyes and ducking our heads into shadows. We needed to remedy this situation.

"I'll make curtains!" I said, but for the longest time I didn't know how to make curtains. Once I got my sewing skills up to par, I began looking for some fabric. Of course, I couldn't find any that I liked in the fabric stores. Then while combing through a thrift store for vintage pillowcases, I happened upon an old twin sheet in a print that I actually liked. It was what I was looking for--a light background with pops of blue. I bought it for 53 cents(!), gave it a good washing, and set about sewing up some curtains.

The curtains are simple, but lovely. They're just two straight panels to block the sun, and I made some tiebacks to use during the daytime. They keep out the heat and direct sun, but allow some light to filter through so that we can still see.

K noticed a drop in the temperature of the room right away, and I realized that now when we have guests over for dinner, they can sit in any of the chairs at our table without having to wear sunglasses. The curtains are a great success!

(I couldn't figure out a good way to show you the curtains, though, since clear pictures are well lit and curtains by definition block out light. These pictures are the best I could render. I hope they'll do.)
* * * * *

I've got some leftover sheet fabric from making these curtains, and you can bet that I already have ideas on how to use it. I'm just itching to make a beach blanket like the one in Handmade Home. These blankets are so gorgeous and would be wonderful for picnics, reading in the park, or just lazing about. I can't wait to hit up some thrift stores in search of more vintage linens. Re-purposing old fabrics might just be my new hobby.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

I believe in pink.

Happy Saturday! These are some late summer flowers I spotted while out on a walk this week, and this is a quote that makes me smile every time I run across it. I hope it does the same for you.

I believe in pink.
I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner.
I believe in kissing, kissing a lot.
I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong.
I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls.
I believe that tomorrow is another day and
I believe in miracles.

--Audrey Hepburn

Friday, August 14, 2009


Last night as K and I were coming home, we stopped in our garden to pluck a watermelon from the vine. I wasn't sure if the melons were actually ripe, but I was eager to see and couldn't wait until morning. Plus, our neighbors are clamoring for our watermelons. I'll give the neighbors all the tomatoes they want, but those melons are ours. So, under cover of darkness, I picked our first melon of the season.

We brought the watermelon inside, dirt and bits of grass still clinging to its yellow underbelly, and hastily sliced into it.

This is a watermelon from our garden, but not the one we ate last night. I picked this little guy on a soggy day a couple of weeks back only to discover that it just wasn't ripe yet. I didn't tell you about it then because it was a sad day of unfulfilled expectations. But time passes and more watermelons grow. So it goes.

This is the watermelon we had last night. It was ripe and still warm from the day's hot sun. I'll leave the rest in the garden a tad longer to get some more sweetness into them.

It was delicious--sweet and juicy, its pretty pink flesh lined with rows of seeds just right for a watermelon seed spitting contest. We spooned up big scoops of melon until our stomachs were full, but we've still got lots left. I know what I'll be having for breakfast, this time nice and cool from its overnight chill in the fridge. Hurray for garden-grown watermelons!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Julie's Beading Spice Rack

This is my sister Julie.

Julie's minoring in art at school, and I love to see what she makes in her art classes. She gave me a sculpture of her roommate's head that she made in class last semester. It's very realistic and actually looks like her roommate. I feel like I've really gotten to know her since her head's been hanging out at our house all summer. (Hi Sarah! Hope you're doing well!) In her off time, Julie finds ways to be creative, too.

This summer she's been making lots of beautiful jewelry. Her style is feminine and elegant, sophisticated yet casual enough for everyday wear. She leans towards bronze, gold, pink, and brown and doesn't shy away from funky beads and charms. She brought over some of the things she's been making lately to show me.

Updated: Julie sent me a better picture of her creations.
Julie's necklaces, earrings, and bracelets

These are some earrings she made for me. I love the jewel tones and funky glass beads.

I also really love her bead storage. She was inspired by this spice rack makeover. Julie's beading supplies are now easy to tote around, so she can make jewelry wherever she feels the urge. She found her spice rack at a thrift store, cleaned it up, and added a new coat of paint. She usually stores her pliers in the empty space.


Beads in jars look so pretty


If you've got any questions for Julie, feel free to leave them in the comment section.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Fiending for some Mad Men

Lately I've been harassing my local video store with phone calls and pop ins. I know I can't be the only one, but I wish the store would understand that I am the most important one. I'm the one that wants Season 2 of Mad Men the most, and that should count for something. Bump me up to the front of the line. As it stands, I've only seen Season 1, and Season 3 starts on Sunday. Sunday, people! I'm running out of time.

Season 1 of Mad Men blew me away. The sets looked just like 1960 New York. Granted, I wasn't born then and have never been to New York, but the sets are pretty convincing. The brilliant storyline was so much more interesting than I expected. I expected 1960s-style eye candy and a stale plot, but those Mad Men writers amazed me with lots of plot twists and character development. My favorite part of Mad Men, though, is definitely the clothes, hair, and makeup. I love late 1950s styles and watching this show definitely makes me want to get a tailored dress, pearls, and pumps. It's fun to see what each character will wear.

Mad Men is one of the absolute best shows I've ever watched, and now I'm fiending for Season 2. Maybe I'll call the video store again. Cross your fingers.

CSA Day is Back!

Last week we had a break in our CSA subscription, but this week it's back! Mom came over last night loaded up with two bags of vegetables from the farmers market.

Here's what we got:

Little cabbages, an assortment of heirloom tomatoes, beets, carrots, red potatoes, corn and green peppers

Cooking with so many fresh vegetables has really been a treat. I'm thinking that this week should include a tomato quiche because our garden is overflowing with tomatoes, and I'm trying to find new ways to use them. K and I've been eating lots of them--sliced with cottage cheese, on sandwiches, on pizzas, in pasta sauce, in chana masala, and in a really fabulous tomato and corn pie. The tomato and corn pie has--get this--a biscuit crust. After trying this pie for dinner last week, K declared it a winner and said we need to keep it in our repertoire. I agree. You can find the recipe here on Gourmet magazine's website. I know, I'm as shocked as you that I made another of their recipes, but since the plum kuchen was such a hit, I figured I'd give them a chance. They didn't disappoint. The corn and tomato flavors were fresh with a hint of lemon, the basil and chives lent their savory flair, and the biscuit crust was warm and buttery. Corn and tomatoes are in season now if you want to try out this recipe.

In other cooking news, you may remember that I was trying to find recipes for beets a few weeks back. I ended up roasting them and using them to make beet soup, but something strange happened. No matter what I added to the soup (onions, broth, seasonings, etc.) it kept tasting like nothing. Not good or bad, just a non-taste really. It did turn out pretty though, in a "that's a great color, but you expect me to eat it?" kind of way. I'll try cooking them another way this week, seeing as how Mom left the entire bunch for me to experiment with. Redeem yourselves, beets!

* * * * *

When Mom talked with Nick, our Finger Pickin' Farms farmer, he told her that the intense rain and flooding last week wiped out an entire field of tomatoes. It's so upsetting to think of all the hard work, energy, and money that went into growing those tomatoes, only to have them obliterated by flooding.

Please, support your local farms!

Monday, August 10, 2009


Bright pattern tags

I began reading the blog Tea for Joy because it's a fun way to see London (since I can't afford to go jaunting off to the U.K. whenever I feel like it) and because I love almost anything having to do with tea--tea itself, teacups, tea parties, etc. In fact, you might remember that I actually got engaged over a cup of tea!

Well now Lynne, who writes Tea for Joy, has given me another reason to love her. She's started a stationery shop called Papermash that sells all kinds of goods from independent artists around the world. I certainly think handwritten notes and letters are important in our busy and technology-obsessed world, and beautiful stationery only adds to the charm of personal correspondence.

Lynne is currently having a contest on her blog and is giving away a year's worth of stationery from Papermash! Do you know how much loveliness that is? Enough to make my heart go all aflutter! Get yourself over to Tea for Joy to enter the giveaway for yourself.

Here are some of my favorite things from her new shop:

(Click on the pictures to see the item on the Papermash website)

“Noted” metallic notebook

Scalloped edge notebook

Picnic Polaroid postcards

Polaroid Postcards

Lace tape

Lace tape

Free typewriter card

Free downloadable typewriter cards!

I've already printed some of these cute cards out and can't wait to send them to some special folks.

* * * * *

All pictures in this post are from the Papermash website. Best of luck with the new shop, Lynne!


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