Friday, July 25, 2008

Friends, Salad, and Quilts

Sometimes you shouldn't meet up with people you meet online. DUH.

Heck, probably most of the time. However, sometimes you do anyway and it actually turns out to be great.

Today Katie (of Metrosupial Designs) and her beautiful son Rowan came up today for a bit of salad, tea and quilt-talk. I was so tickled to have Katie's expertise in quilting. It was a perfect trade for a measly price of some fat quarters. How I value knowledge. Especially in quilting at this point, which is my new favorite obsession.

Yes, quilting. Things just seem to fall into place sometimes. It is funny how I look back on the progression of crafting. First, I start knitting soakers (vintage-style diaper covers), then I teach myself to sew t make clothes for baby (preemie) Isabel, then I start selling clothing, then I give that up for selling fabrics, and now.... now I have to do something with all those glorious scraps of fabric I have coming out of my ears.

So, as I sit drooling over Katie's quilts, I think to myself, "How am I going to pick her brain so that I can make something this unbelievably gorgeous?"

Bribe her with fabric, of course. ;)

I know it isn't just good photos. I have seen her work in person. Katie, well, Katie is as picky about a stupid stitch as I. She is like the only other person that didn't either look away and change the subject, or look at me like I was crazy when I told her I was careful to back-track into the same holes when sewing. (For those of you who don't sew or know what this even is, don't worry - let's just say it is pretty freakin' anal.) In fact, Katie did the same thing. This girl is a perfectionist when it comes to sewing; a girl after my own heart.

So ANYway, what I was really so excited about was that Katie-the-awesome-seamstress, came up and showed me how to quilt. A brief but effective 10-minute tutorial has got me so ramped up that I have plans to head straight to my local sewing shop for a new rotary blade, quilting square, and quilt wall in the morning. I can't wait to show off my newly acquired quilt-making skills, and all the sad little misfit scraps turned into something beautiful and new. Something great, if fact. Something like a new friend.

THE SALAD: chopped Romain, blueberries, raw corn, raw almonds, orange bell peppers, scallions, Asian salad dressing (Annie's), and diced avocado. TOSS AND EAT ALL-DAY LONG.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Cute-ey Little Cute-els of Cuteness

Not only is she beautiful and has a terrific Italian last name (did I tell you my maiden name is Sicilian?), Jamie Ferraioli creates these fabulous little trinkets with amazing precision and charm. Mixing food and miniatures? Yes! Yes! I LOVE this! Clearly she is much younger than I, but these things truly remind me of my childhood; something my grandmother would have given me as a really cool souvenir from Europe.

Especially the Plinis (don't you love that name?!). They are these handcrafted little dolls that are shiny and cute and harming, and have loads of individual character.

And the name: Magic Bean Buyer. Oh yeah.

They are so friggin' cute. Go support another fabulous Etsy rockstar!

And her cute blog.

Oh that's right. No wonder she is so cool. She has the same birthday as ME!

I am sorta embarrassed.

I have a tiny little confession to make: I "think" that no one reads my blog. I think I have to. Trust me, if I don't dribble a stream of consciousness when I write - you know, if I actually TRY to write as if someone is reading it - it is horribly drab.

My neighbor just informed me that I didn't do enough inputs on my blog. I was like, "You READ it?!"

I hope it doesn't go to shit now. THANKS April. ;) Remind me to bring you some Gladcorn to try. (Oh, and I will forgive you for asking me if I used to be a lesbian in a past life because I used to roll my own cigarettes. Heck, I don't even smoke anymore.)

OK. So while I come up with really wonderful things to blog about here are some funny little eCards from someecards to chuckle over. I am not ashamed that I stole them from my friend Rebecca's uber-cool blog. I would do it again. My sister-in-law is looking for a type of "baby" announcement to send to her friends... to welcome her new boobs. Maybe I can find it there.

Oh hey... Speaking of my sister-in-law's boobs...
She wrote my husband to tell him she is doing it, and his reply "Oh good, I never thought guys stared at my sister's chest enough." OH, I do love that man. Still makes me laugh like crazy after 7 years.

Speaking of boobs....
Such a big dilemma. Would I or wouldn't I? Do I really want guys to stare at my chest? I mean, I never had anything there, really. OK, maybe enough for the random street-dude to check me out, but that never made me feel empowered. Part of me thing this might be a good distraction - why not have a greater advantage when trying to get something? Then, I think, will anyone ever take me serious with a full-D rack with tits up to my chin? I can just hear it... "I DO take you seriously honey... You and your BA-ZOOM-BAS!" Sure, it would be nice to fill in clothes, but then when something happens like this Monday when I was gardening in the back alley and some flashback from the seventies with a big mullet driving a white van (listening to Lynyrd Skynyrd) stops to check me out, I think notsomuch.

To Boob or Not to Boob. What a dilemma.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

A-MAIZING snack it is!

I haven't much time to write - I know, I really need to get on this blog-wagon thing - but I wanted to share a small little secret I have. I sent a care package to my husband a couple weeks ago, and I heard back about his favorite thing: a bag of Gladcorn. While it doesn't look like much when you tear open the bag, your skepticism will soon be squashed when you try this.If you are like my husband who likes to eat the corn kernels that never popped, you will die over this stuff. If you would never touch the kernels (like me) you will love this stuff. What's better is that the original formula has only 3 ingredients. Yes! THREE INGREDIENTS. And it is darn tootin' good! I recommend buying it online (they also have a wonderful looking Jalepeno flavor, as well as BBQ and Cheddar), where you can even just get a free sample for just $1.50 shipping. Trust me, you will be back for more!

Monday, July 14, 2008

For SOME-one SPEC-ial!

Ooooh, they know who they are... Someone is expecting their first baby girl.

With their idea and my craftiness (and addiction to fabrics) I have created a cute little 1950s play suit.

I love sewing just for the love of it. No more for money, I think it is much more fun for me to do for trade or gift. I think that things loose their vibrancy when done simply for money, especially with time-frames looming overhead. Not so with this little cutie.

I also think sewing for babies is something special as well. Babies are already cute enough, but when you put them in something outright adorable, well... Who doesn't like people turning to mush at your feet when they get a glimpse of your little offspring?

On top of that, I just love using authentic old patterns. For some reason, even when the new patterns come out, they never have that "essence" of spirit. They seem so generic, and darn it if they never seem to fit right! You would think they would have it down by now, but I have to tell you that the old patterns are for making real clothes, and the new ones always look "homemade." Ick. I think part of that is that people are so intimidated by sewing, that they make modern patterns all so very easy that they leave out any special tailor tricks to make the garment look finished and fitted. Well, I have news for those of you who are intimidated... Suck it up. They aren't that hard. When I feel intimidated by something, what works for me is to think of the people who can do this or that, and think, "Do they seem like they have brain surgeon mentality?" Chances are, not so much. You will teach yourself something with these old patterns, and feel so much better about the time you spend in creating something far superior to commonplace "craft." Heck, write me, and I would be tickled pink to share some "trade secrets." I think most people who really love doing this also love sharing in the craft.

This reminds me of the era my house was created in as well - during the Arts & Crafts movement. People spend time learning how to create things, and art seemed to have a greater importance. I think there is a great effort to recreate a bit of this, but nothing ever seems to take hold like it ever did. After all, the process of art is really about the process of the person, no? You learn something about yourself when you put your heart and soul into it. Just as writing is therapy (hello again. blog) so is creating stuffies, or baby clothes, cooking, or painting a little painting. Who can argue that the world is a better place with art? Or better yet, with more people who are better able to express themselves.

Oh, did I digress???

Anyway, I really really love this fabulous Denyse Schmidt Basket Weave Fabric. So simple yet interesting. In fact, I think Denyse Schmidt is my favorite fabric designer right now. She has a real genius for created vintage style fabrics infused with a beautiful yet subtle modern influence. I also love how the colors are "colonial brown" rather than plain old brown, and "fairway" rather than plain old green. What's in a name? I think it can really breathe life into something, and spur some great creativity.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

I will Make You Somethin'

Seriously. If you can tell me where this fabric can be found, I will make you somethin.' I think this is like th coolest room EVER. And that poster. Geesh! I am dyin' ova here!

On a serious note. That would totally go well in our house. The forest-y theme would lend itself nicely to our 1924 Craftsman, and blue is Isabel's favorite color. I think I could deal with this soft blue. Besides, it would look nice with all our cherry woodwork. Oh, pine, pine, pine....

Sure, I am that sophistocated.... ::hack hack::

I have always thought of wallpaper as being for the stuffy, conservative, stiff, and well... bland tasteless sort of person. Well, bland and stuffy no more. Check out these wallpapers by Flavor Paper.

Sometimes I swear I find stuff so cool I think I am gonna die. I mean, you know, if I had a mid-century modern house, I would sneak past my husband's super-detective accounting practices and purchase this stuff.

So when you think of wall paper, what do you think of? Sailboats? Toile? 1970s version of art deco? That nasty purple and green Wisteria on trellis from 80s suburbia? (OK stop me, I am making myself sick.)

How about scratch-and-sniff? Yeah, that's right. I said SCRATCH-AND-SNIFF. They have scratch and sniff, cherries and bananas, and other stuff.

Here are some of my favorites, but don't take my word for it - go find a favorite or two for yourself.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Simple Joys of Summer.

Ahhh... the simple joys, indeed. You ever make something so deliciously simple that you want to share it with everyone?

I have started trying to be much more economical with my groceries. Who hasn't these days?! One of the best things I have found, is that making "refried" beans (which aren't actually "refried") from scratch (or scraps, as my daughter used to say) is so amazingly better than canned. OK, we all know that fresh is better than canned. Granted. But, BUT, I have a little trick that makes them taste so good, you will remember to soak the beans the evening before. Seriosuly. I forget EV-E-REEEE-THING, and I have made these twice. So, let me write down this receipe for you, before I forget how to make them myself.

So, you get some good beans. Beans - beans are CHEAP, right? So get yourself some good ones at your local Co-op if you can. Oranganic. Beans can get old, so either buy them at a Coop or at a Mexican Tienda. Soak them overnight - about 8 hours.

Toss out the floaters. (Just saying that makes me *really* want to toss them out. Wonder why...)

Cover with enough water so that you have about 2 inches of water above the beans. If you have a good cast-iron enamel pan (Le Creuset) I suggest using that. Heck, you saved so much on the beans, go out and buy one of these - treat yourself fer real.

Boil, then simmer, with lid on (to preserve moisture) for about 1-2 hours. You can test the beans (by eating) to see if they are soft or palette-able. Check occasionally to make sure they don't dry up, if the water gets low, you can add more - preferably hot water. Even when they are done cooking, you should be able to see some of the water over the beans, but they should not be swimming.

When beans are soft, you can take them off the heat and using a potato masher, and making sure there is some residual hot "bean-water" you should mash them all up. You can always add more hot water if you want. I keep mashing until they are smooth, and about the consistency of runny mashed potatoes. (You will want them a tiny bit thin as they continue to "firm-up" after mashing, and especially while cooking a bit.)

One you get the hang of this, it is soooo easy. Simple as beans, really.

So here's the magic.....

Although I am usually all about natural forms of food (the less processing, the better) try adding some dried onion powder and garlic powder to taste. You can really go heavy on the onion powder. It really gives you that delicious onion-y flavor with none of the watery interruption of the smooth bean texture. I totally swear by this. Next, you want to add some natural French sea salt. This stuff is da-BOMB! This will make a difference in all your cooking, and I can just about guarantee that you will notice the difference the first time you use it. I went from table salt, to Kosher, to this French stuff, and I just about gag when I taste table salt now. (It even makes your homemade French fries - you know those you make every Friday - taste like a delectable gourmet treat.)

You can also dump in a can (yeah, a can, OK) of green chilis for a little added flavor, and some fresh-squeezed lemon or lime juice for brightness. But trust me, taste the beans first, you are gonna DIE they are so good.

So, there you have it. Simple, but I swear you are going to want to make this every weekend to go with your Negra Modelo, handmade guacamole (with the same onion/salt/garlic addition) some grilled veggies, Pico de Giyo, and slices of limes coming out of your ears.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Flaming Lips.

Really? They are flaming?

I don't know where The Flaming Lips got the name, but I guess I don't care so much. I forget sometimes, that this is one of the most badass bands in the universe, until I give another listen to Yoshimi (Lyrics so killer, worth posting):

Her name is Yoshimi
she's a black belt in karate
working for the city
she has to discipline her body

'Cause she knows that
it's demanding
to defeat those evil machines
I know she can beat them

Oh Yoshimi, they don't believe me
but you won't let those robots eat me
Yoshimi, they don't believe me
but you won't let those robots defeat me

Those evil-natured robots
they're programmed to destroy us
she's gotta be strong to fight them
so she's taking lots of vitamins

'Cause she knows that
it'd be tragic
if those evil robots win
I know she can beat them

...and so on.

(YEAH! - take your vitamins Yoshimi - yeah!!!)

I don't know why, but this song really inspires me to create. It reminds me of how one of my art teachers, in discussing a painting of his, told us how he painted the entire painting while listening to some U2 album. This was as if some trade secret had been revealed to me. But more than that, it was a revelation of how much music can color ones life. How it can inspire and motivate you in a particular direction. This is particularly true of those who are normally creative, but sometimes have a teensy weensy bit of a challenge harnessing that creative energy and focusing on just one project. Amen brotha.

So, get out those old favorites, or new killers (I might suggest the new Madeline Peyroux here) or anything that really truly rocks your boat, and create some cool stuff.

And what's not to love about a song titled, "Free Radicals (A Hallucination of the Christmas Skeleton Pleading with a Suicide Bomber)"? Nothin, man. Nothin. Who doesn't want to create something special when thinking of this? Maybe little alien stuffies, or some fluffy cupcakes, or a huge wall mural, or, or or.....

Did I mention I saw them at the Del Mar racetrack in San Diego? Jealous much? ;)

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Yeah, I read it.....

In like, TWO DAYS.

I don't think I laughed so much (albeit nervously) since I read Harrison Bergeron.

Have you ever read a book and were like "ohmygod, I swear I am so much like this person." That is totally how From Wild to Child sucked me in. I mean, I could totally relate. Then I realized that a lot of people probably feel the same way. Rebecca (or should I say Mrs. Woolf?) is a good writer. That is what good writers do - they make you relate. One of the ways this book really hooked me in was Rebecca's style of writing. It is how you would talk. This is something I revisited many times in college. "Just write they way you would talk," my teachers always told me. I thought I was, I would always think in reply. Eventually I came to the realization that a writer, I was not meant to be. Rebecca has an almost uncanny ability to do just this, cuss words and all.

What's not to love about a story, about a person, who admittedly loves "my pet human. cold glasses of water. fuzzy caterpillars. dog parks. trains. indie rock. raquetball. bowling. first editions. Henry Miller. work. dive bars. frozen fruit. traveling. people who lead rich lives. Writing stuff." (taken from her MySpace - does this make me a stalker?)

Or is it just me?

This is a great little book about being thrown into parenthood. I don't know how many of you were totally prepared and instantly felt grown up, mature, and knew exactly what to do when they got pregnant for the first time, but me, notsomuch. That is truly what this book visits; the thought process of coming from a situation with little responsisbility and being thrown into parenthood and dealing with a sense of self and a new child.

From the book, you get the sense that everything is going to be okay, and a thankfulness that Rebecca so candidly gives you the privilege of following her through her struggles of pregnancy, and newfound mothering. For me, it also gave me a really warm and fuzzy feeling that I had the privilege of knowing (and adoring) her before I even knew she was I writer.

I told you I can't write (I do reviews because I love shit). But I know a good book. Read this one. Like now. Goreadit.