Tuesday, September 28, 2010

crocheted necklace and a guessing game

Yesterday I wore this necklace I won from Donna's Decembers via a Smile and Wave giveaway. It made me smile all day long. You can't see it in the photo (due to my short arms and lack of camera self-timer skills), but I was wearing a red and blue tie belt over my t-shirt dress and cardigan. It was a very patriotic/nautical kind of day. 

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These are photos of K opening his crocheted gift. 

Can you tell he's a little baffled?

 His first guess: handwarmer? Nope.

 Neckwarmer? Not nearly big enough. 

 His final guess was upperarm warmer. While he could start a new trend, I don't really think it's very practical. 

I reminded him that he had forgotten the most important clue: 

It's not something you wear. 

So, what about you? Any guesses?

 I know I've got some crafty readers. I bet you guys can guess this in no time. 

birthday boy... man? That just doesn't have the same ring to it.


Happy Birthday to my favorite husband, Korey!

Hope you have a marvelous 28th birthday.

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He opened presents this morning* and spent his time before work listening to new records. Tonight we're looking forward to dinner out and cake at home (quite possibly the ugliest cake I've ever made. I'm hoping that it is equally homely and delicious). 

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* I'll put up photos later of him trying to figure out what the crocheted thing I made him is. It was hilarious!

Monday, September 27, 2010

weekend snippets

This weekend we took a little roadtrip to K's parents' house to celebrate several birthdays. Along the way we managed to squeeze in a visit with my sister at her college. Some of my favorite parts of the weekend follow:

Fire. So perfect on a cool night.

There was marshmallow roasting.

K's mom harvested some of the last tomatoes (and peppers) of the season. We took home a giant bag to eat and freeze for winter.

I spotted the Oscar Mayer Weinermobile in a darkened hotel parking lot in Lexington, KY. So exciting! Perhaps it was in town for the World Equestrian Games?

My sister has the coziest dorm room I've ever seen. It was so good to see her!

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And you? What was your favorite part of the weekend?

Sunday, September 26, 2010

csa day: autumn begins

CSA day vegetables from the past two weeks have definitely shown that fall is here. We're getting butternut squash and cold weather greens like chard, though some summer staples like tomatoes and peppers are still hanging on.

Two weeks ago we got: lots of sweet peppers, hot peppers, a variety of squash, chard, and tomatoes.

Last week we got: sweet peppers, a mix of beans, hot peppers, sweet basil and holy (purple) basil, beets, butternut squash, and sweet potatoes.

This year's CSA subscription has felt very different from last year's. Last year we picked up the vegetables at the farmers' market and chatted with one of the guys who worked on the farm. He'd let us know how growing was going and give us tips on how to cook things we weren't familiar with. This year the vegetables are delivered to my dad's front porch in the early morning, so it feels a little like the vegetable fairy has come. Delivery is very convenient for us, but I've missed the interaction with the person who grows our food. 

Recently Nick, the farmer of Finger Picking Farms, emailed some details about how the farming is going. He said that because of the lack of rain and super hot weather, he's gone to overnight watering for the fall crops. The watering has to be rotated fairly often to get to all of the crops, so he's been sleeping in a makeshift bed in the back of his pick-up truck, waking every hour and a half to change the watering over. Knowing all of the work he's put into these vegetables will make them taste even better and will keep me motivated to use them all.

The plan is to freeze a lot of peppers, make a small batch of pesto, and to roast the squash and sweet potatoes. I'm sure we'll find a night to have the green, speckled, and yellow wax beans with dinner, but I don't know what we'll do with the beets yet. With school and work, I don't have the time to whip up beet gnocchi this week. Does anybody have any quick and easy ideas?

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Menu Highlights from the past two weeks:

Spinach Lasagna

Breakfast Burritos (Chili leftovers + Eggs + Tortillas)

Veggie Burgers and Cabbage Casserole (K's mom's recipe)

Yes, I am very behind on sharing our menus, but we've made some really great meals lately that I think you will absolutely love! 

The Sweet Potato and Cabbage soup--Inspired by the Indonesian dish gado-gado, this soup contains sweet potatoes, chopped cabbage, ginger, garlic, onions, and tomatoes in a peanut butter broth, and is excellent when topped with green onions and cilantro. While the name might not sound very appealing at first, let me tell you, once you make this it will quickly become a regular in your meal-making. It's got peanut butter in it after all!  And with so many healthy vegetables, it's great for warding off colds.

The Black Bean Chili--This is a very thick and hearty chili (what a certain TV chef might refer to as a--gag--stoup). The recipe comes from a nationally famous local restaurant that specializes in good food, expensive drinks, and gaudy decor. What I love about this chili is how versatile it is. Not only did we eat it as plain ol' chili, we also used it to make breakfast burritos and as a topping for baked sweet potatoes (my new favorite lunch). The only major change we made is using only half as many beans as the recipe calls for. Believe me, even when halved, it's still plenty of beans.

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What have you been cooking lately? I'm always looking for fast meals and make-ahead dinners.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Autumn Nostalgia

Happy Autumn! I'm over-the-moon happy that it's officially fall. I decided to celebrate by sharing some of my favorite fall photos that I took when I lived in Japan. It seemed fitting to reminisce--autumn just makes me feel like curling up and telling stories over spiced wine or tea. 

Crochet and food offerings at this tiny shrine in Kajo Park, a city park that I biked through on my way to work. Not a bad commute! I always thought of this as the cat shrine because it looks like a feline perched there on a rock, but I don't really know what it's supposed to be. 

Daikons and persimmons hanging up to dry. This was the view out my bedroom window.

Yellow ginko leaf on my scarf. I took this photo on a cool autumn day at the park. K and I sat on a bench sipping from a thermos of hot tea and watched the ginko leaves stream down from their branches. 

A garage well-stocked with wood, daikons, and drying peppers. I was always peeking into this garage to see what they were drying, and I remember trying to sneak and take this photo. K and I referred to the owners of this garage as 'the catwalkers' because they were always out in the morning walking their cat on a leash. 

Oh goodness, it's me circa 2006. Don't I look so young? Anyway, this picture is part of my fall flashback because I was drinking umeshu, which is a deliciously sweet apricot liqueur. In the spring, unripe apricots are mixed with sugar and alcohol and left to ferment over the summer. By fall, it's ready to drink. You can see the preserved apricot in bottom of the glass if you look closely. Mmm...I'm going to have to find some umeshu soon.

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So, what's your favorite fall memory? Jumping in leaf piles? Sipping cider? Picking pumpkins? I'd love to hear!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Pinwheel Friends

My sewing machine saw the tiniest bit of action this weekend. It's the third weekend in a row I told myself that I was going to finally finish up my second pinwheel pillow cover. The first needed a friend, you know? So there I was at 11 o'clock on Sunday night stitching this together so that I could reach my self-appointed deadline. Success!

The pinwheel covers are for my living room floor pillows. I don't know if it's from living in Japan or what, but I often find myself wanting to plop down in the middle of the floor to work on projects or just listen to records. These floor pillows make the hardwood floor a little more bearable.

These are made with vintage sheets from my growing collection. I can't get enough vintage sheets in my life! If you missed it the first time, I used this fun tutorial for making the pinwheels.

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In a happy coincidence, today is pinwheels for peace day! Thanks to Elizabeth for the heads up.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

weekend snippets: tea, cupcakes, and crochet

masala chai for two from the zen teahouse.

cupcake prep. yum.

my potluck contribution. chocolate cupcakes with vanilla/chocolate buttercream frosting.

reading middlemarch with the help of awake blend tea.

a bit of hook time with some red thread. motif #46 from this book.

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this weekend has been full, but very happy. i got to visit with both of my parents, hang out with a grade school friend, and go on a cool morning walk with k. of course there was also lots of studying, as well as a bit of cooking and cleaning, but that's to be expected. 

what's something happy from your weekend? i'd love to hear. it'll help me (and maybe you) extend good weekend feelings on into the work/school week. 

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Collaborative Crochet: Pompom Baby Beanie

As you might remember from my ripple blanket post, my cousin is due to have a little boy any day now. She is ready to have him in her arms instead of her belly! 

To celebrate his arrival, my mom crocheted this hat for him, but she asked me to add the finishing details. I crocheted a simple cream border and decided to top it with a pompom, which pleased me to no end because I've been itching to make a pompom for a long time. I used this tutorial, and am happy with the results. I hope Baby Gabe will be happy with it, too!

My Nancy doll wanted to model, and who am I to stop her? Her yellow curls do make for a lumpy silhouette, though. My Grandma Trudy crocheted Nancy for me when I was maybe two years old.

 I named her after a girl at my daycare who had curly blond hair. I still can recall a blurry image of that girl and her blond girls as she was being carried into the daycare by one of her parents. It's strange the things that stay with us.

Nancy doll hangs out in my living room now, sleeping on bookshelves and lazing in chairs. She leads a charmed life.

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This hat is my go-to baby gift. It's quick to make and you can easily create a variety of hats just by changing the border or adding different adornments. The pattern is free if you want to try it out for yourself. Here it is on Ravelry, too.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Flea Market Finds

Last weekend the big flea market came to town--the flea market with lots of antiques that only comes twice a year. I had a little bit of luck finding vintage crafty materials to work with. 

I scored a vintage floral curtain, a pink and aqua sheet (perfect for a little recovering project I've got in mind), some colorful crochet hooks, furniture keys, and some itsy-bitsy crochet hooks in their own wooden case. 

The vintage crochet threads are from my mom (thanks, Mom!) who knows the vintage things I like and keeps an eye out whenever she's at a thrift store. As you can see I couldn't resist breaking into those threads and have already whipped up a lacy little project (far right). Now that I've got all of this thread, I might have to try my hand at crocheting ric-rac. Crocheted ric-rac around the collar would really perk up a plain t-shirt, don't you think?

A closer look at the hooks and keys. I love the soft colors of the hooks; they look like after dinner mints. The furniture keys each have a character of their own. I want to keep them all! However, I do need to think of something else to make besides necklaces so that I don't become "that girl who always wears a key around her neck." Any ideas for how to use my excess of vintage keys would be greatly appreciated.

These are the hooks from the green wooden case. They're so tiny! I don't know if I'll ever actually use them, but they're pretty fun to look at. 

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Have you had any thrifty luck lately?

Friday, September 10, 2010

this moment: still trying to find my groove

[from my record collection]

this week i've alternated between feeling like confident maria ("i have confidence in confidence alone") and problem maria ("she climbs a tree and scrapes her knee, her dress has got a tear"). 

for now i'm living in that groove between tracks four and five, hoping with all i've got that the buoyant feeling of confident maria will soon win out. 

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see more moments here (and check out amanda's great news!).

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

csa day: melons and squash

Here's what we found in our Finger Picking Farms CSA box last week. Lots of good things: squash, zucchini, melons, basil, potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, and okra. 

This week our CSA is on break because of all the dry, hot weather we've been having. Hopefully now that it's cooling down the crops will start improving. I know it must be hard on Nick, our CSA farmer, but he has kept us well-supplied with fruits, vegetables, and flowers this year. 

[Julie pretending to throw her bouquet of basil]

This week's menu:

Monday and Tuesday--Egg Noodle Soup

This is my vegetarian riff on chicken noodle soup--I use vegetables, vegetable broth, egg noodles, and eggs. Secret ingredient: Bay leaves. 

Wednesday and Thursday--Vegetable Strata with Homemade Pesto 

This one was inspired by a really delicious strata I ate at The Cafe. I had never tasted a strata, but it wowed me right away. The bread and eggs make it so comforting and the vegetables make it hearty. I might have a recipe for you if this works out. K cooked it all as I cobbled together different internet recipes and shouted out the directions. (Thanks K!)

Friday--Veggie burgers, corn risotto, and roasted sweet potatoes

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Hope you're eating well this week! Have you been cooking anything good?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Etsy Love: Lace Details

Outfit details:
Lavender tea shawl--me

I just had to share two of my favorite Etsy purchases ever, which I happened to wearing on the day of the shawl photo shoot. Both involve lace, but that won't come as a surprise if you've been reading this blog for any amount of time. I seem to get girlier and frillier by the day.  

I bought the lace necklace as a birthday present for myself. Vintage lace is sandwiched between two thin slices of glass; it's a great way to preserve and appreciate something so delicate and fragile. Lisa makes all kinds of necklaces, earrings, and brooches using vintage materials like lace, crazy quilts, and cards. 

Talented Miss Liesl made the skirt--it's a lovely shade of gray that goes with anything. The lace detail makes it just perfect in my mind. This skirt has been my go-to summer attire for neighborhood walks,  flea market jaunts, and day trips to little old towns. Liesl sews beautiful, high-quality clothes, home items, bags, and more.

I hope you'll check out these two wonderful shops! I know you'll find lots to love in both.

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I'd love to hear about your favorite handmade buys. Any favorite online shops I should check out?

Monday, September 6, 2010

Lavender Tea Shawl

Hello friends! Around these parts we're still enjoying our Labor Day holiday. We had a long-lost friend come to visit this weekend, a friend called autumn weather. We opened the windows and invited the cool air to make itself at home. We took walks and marveled at the chill. Yes, I do hope cool weather will stay awhile, especially now that I am officially ready for it, armed with crocheted goods like a wool cardigan, a South Bay shawl, and now this soft lavender tea shawl.

The lavender tea shawl worked up quickly. I thought I'd finished it, but then I went and made those potholders and fell head-over-heels for their scalloped edges. So I ripped out the edging and re-did it using a variation on the potholder scallop.

I had a good time trying out different ways to style this shawl. It's cozy when wrapped to the side, making it perfect for snuggling into at the bus stop on cool mornings. 

Wearing the shawl backwards really highlights the scallops, which (if you haven't figured it out already) are my favorite part of the shawl. Whenever I wear a shawl this way, I get the feeling that I need to design a kind of mini-poncho--a crocheted round with a hole for my head and scalloped edges that just cover my shoulders like this one here. Then I wouldn't have to worry about tying the ends in the back. 

I'm quite partial to wearing the lavender tea shawl fastened with a vintage brooch. I imagine I'll be wearing it this way most of all.

The pattern is a free one from Lion Brand Yarn called the Tea Wrap (or Seashell Wrap). I think you have to have an account to view the pattern, but it's free to make an account and there are lots of good free patterns. The Ravelry pattern page is here. You can see my project page with notes on the changes I made to the pattern here.
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I hope you're enjoying the change of seasons as much as I am! I'm off to wrap up in this shawl and spend the day by open windows with my nose stuck in my school books and a cup of tea at my side.

Friday, September 3, 2010

this moment: sundae at summer's end

a sweet end to summer. 

bring on autumn!

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i'm participating in the {this moment} series inspired by soulemama.

each week i pick a photo of one moment i'd like to savor a little bit longer.

you can see what moments others have chosen on soulemama's blog.


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