31 October 2007

Thinking about Gifting

Just wanted to give you all a peek at what I posted up over at the shop just now:



New fall coasters! Perfect for host/hostess gifts, too. I think I'll definitely be making a bunch of these to give as gifts for all the upcoming holiday entertaining I'll be attending (yeah, I don't think we'll be doing any entertaining here this year).

I am definitely starting to think about the holidays (as I sit here answering the doorbell to adorable little trick or treaters- it is a bit early for holiday presents, I think). Jared's family agreed (finally, to his great relief) to not do presents this year, except for the kids. So I don't really have to worry about that, although I'm not sure I'll be able to resist making something small for all of them. But of course, there's still my family, and all the friendlies. So we'll see. But anyways, hop on over to the shop and check these out!

Speaking of the holidays...have you taken the pledge yet?

30 October 2007

New Books: Oh yeah

Yummy yummy, new beautiful books. New inspirations.

I've already read about a gazillion reviews of Joelle Hoverson's new book, Last Minute Patchwork and Quilted Gifts, and I'm sure you all have too. So I won't bore you with another review. I will, however, tell you what immediately made me love this book. In the introduction (can you believe, I read the introduction?!), Joelle says "I trained as a painter, and one of my great passions in life is color. For me, making a quilt or patchwork project is almost always an exploration of color." Okay, so I didn't train as a painter. But I did take a LOT of art classes in high school (and then I got disillusioned in college, but that's another story), and like Joelle, one of my favorite aspects of visual arts was working with color. I think that's why I loved printmaking so much- I wasn't that great at the design aspect, but working with different ink combinations was my way of expressing myself in that medium. And I think I've definitely brought that form of passion into my sewing, my new way of expressing myself creatively.

Anyways, we all know what great patterns are in this book. Here a couple that I want to try first:

I was pleasantly surprised to find so many quilt patterns in this book (not something that I consider "last-minute", but who am I to say, I've never tried it. Do you see where I'm headed with this? Yeah, I'm itching for a quilt...)

The second book I picked up at Crafty Planet on Saturday was the Put Together Book #1 from Hillary over at Wee Wonderfuls (one of my absolute favorite blogs).

Here's the story with this one. Back in July (yeah, I know) I started thinking about Christmas presents for Jared's nephews. I decided that I wanted to sew them both little outfits. Amanda suggested Ottobre, and I immediately fell in love and ordered a back issue (just look at the cutie on the cover of issue# 4/2007). So proud of myself for being so on top of things. Dreaming of finishing these outfits months before Christmas and so excited! Well, it's now almost November, and I still haven't gotten the f*!&#ing issue! Okay, apparently it's been returned to them THREE times. I have not moved or changed my name or anything. I have no idea what the problem is. They say they've put it in the mail again, and I just can't bear to give up hope completely and cancel the order. But I figured that I'd better come up with a back up plan. Albeit a much scaled down plan. So I decided that I would finally try my hand at a softie and figured that Hillary's adorable pattern would be the way to go. I'm thinking the Bear and the Bunny, since I'm just not that into kitties. I might also try out the elephant pattern in Joelle's book, but that one just might have to be for me.

By the by, I'll be posting some more new items in the shop tomorrow, so be sure to check them out. We're getting into holiday mode now...

28 October 2007

Shop Update

I hope you all had lovely weekends. We definitely did here- super fun party on Friday to celebrate Jared's birthday, brunch with friends on Saturday morning, and then pretty much laying low the rest of the weekend, including baking some delicious bread this afternoon. I got a lot of sewing (and some knitting!) done, too.

Speaking of finishing projects, I have updated the shop with a couple of pouches- zippy and snappy-all featuring some new embroidery designs that I've been working on. There are definitely more of these to come very soon, be sure to check them out. I have a couple of new sets of coasters, and some more knitted children's hats that will be going up later this week. I'll try to get them posted by Thursday, so check back for those as well. Here's some quick peeks...





PS: I FINALLY got around to making a new banner for my etsy shop! Let me know what you think, it's been on my to-do list probably for about six months. This must mean I'm finally overcoming my fear of photoshop- yeah, I'm proud of myself. You may have also noticed that my blog now has three columns. I made this modification with the help of this awesome tutorial, that I found via How About Orange. Oh technology, how we love you!

26 October 2007

I really do

I really do love belated birthday presents. Frankly, it just makes me feel like it's still my birthday, when it clearly isn't. And as I mentioned before, the more handmade the present, the better (do I even have to say it?).


Anyways, on Monday I received this belated present from one of my dearest friends. Don't feel bad if you don't get it, it took me a while. So here's the story. About a month ago, I was at this bar with a few friends. The three other people I was with all ordered the same beer and I ordered some kind of nonalcoholic fruity lemonade or something (I was just in the mood). When the waiter came and brought us our drinks, he gave everyone else a coaster with their beverage, except for me. It seemed odd (especially compounded by his previous odd behavior- such as sitting down in a chair next to my friend while we were ordering), and when he finally came back I asked him for a coaster. He was all jokey and started throwing coasters at me (they were just those cardboard kind, but still). So we threw some back at him, and on and on it went for the rest of the night.


It was kind of funny, but mostly kind of annoying. Anyways, so one of my friends who was with me that night relayed this story to our friend in Brooklyn, who then made me this birthday present. A comic strip of me getting hit in the face with coasters. Etched in clay. On a set of four coasters. You have to admit the hilarity of it. In a message to me the other day, Jenny referred to it as "possibly the most offensive gift I've ever given anyone." But I love it.


She also sent me this advance (maybe?) copy of The Art of William Steig, who wrote and illustrated some of my all time favorite children's books among many other things. If you're not familiar with him, you've clearly been living in a hole for your entire life. I forgive you, but it's not too late to hop on the Steig train. (Jenny also got tickets for my parents to the opening of this exhibit at the Jewish Museum-where she works. So jealous!) Anyways, here's a couple of my favorites, just from my quick perusing of this amazing book.


Hope you all have great weekends. I've still got more crafting to catch you all up on (I've been pretty busy) so I may pop in here over the weekend. And just a heads up, I'm feeling a little giveaway in the making, so stick around.

24 October 2007

Patchwork Swap

Talk about a good mail week (and it's only Wednesday). I won't yet go into Monday's mail haul, as I'm still trying to ascertain all the details on one of the packages (more on that later). But today, I came home to my package from the Patchwork Swap that Linda so awesomely organized (Thanks Linda!).

Beki sent me these great fabric scraps (she was so right on with my taste that there was even one that I had sent off a scrap of to my partner!), a whole bunch of fun notions, and this beautiful patchwork glasses case. I don't wear glasses and I already have a case for my sunglasses, but I'm thinking this would be perfect as a pen/pencil case maybe (that way I could avoid even more pen marks on the insides of all my bags that result from loose pens).

I love it Beki, thanks!

And of course, here are some photos of the package I sent off. I'm pretty positive that my partner doesn't read this blog, so I'm not worried about her seeing this (although she's probably received the package by now).

I had a lot of fun picking out all the scraps and thinking back on the projects that I had used those fabrics for. I can't believe it's been a year since we moved here, which was pretty much when I really threw myself into this whole sewing/selling/blogging thing. Ahh, the nostalgia. Ok, that's enough. So I stalked my partner's blog, and found out that Tess is super into her bike. Thus this zippy pouch...

Well, Tess, I hope you like your gift!

22 October 2007

More craftiness action

Alright then. I hope you all had lovely weekends. Mine was very relaxed, a nice breakfast at a delicious Cuban restaurant, picking out pumpkins at the farmer's market, and a lot of sewing. I'm feeling this burst of crafty energy here and I'm trying to ride it as much as possible while it's here. I'm officially signed up for two holiday craft shows, and I'm really trying to get a head start and avoid pulling all nighters the week before.


So here's a peek at some of the products I finished over the weekend. Unfortunately (for you all) these are headed to an amazing little store here in Minneapolis- i like you. Any of you who are local, should definitely check it out. They have a wonderful selection of locally produced handmade goods. But there will be some going up in the shop hopefully by next week, so I'll be sure to let you know when that happens.


The other thing I finally accomplished on Friday (it's been on my to do list for months now) was to make up these fabric labels for all of my products.


I finally ordered the printable fabric (I used Crafter's Image Cotton Poplin Photofabric) back in early September and ever since then I've been hemming and hawing over a design. Well, after all that, I decided to just go with "minecreations" (yeah, I know, really worth all that thought!). It's simple, people can google me if they want, and it still leaves me the option of (someday) creating a "minecreations.com" splash page where people can access my etsy shop, the blog, flickr page, etc. all in one place. I'm not sure how it will hold up against a washing machine and all that, but how often will people put their zippy pouches in the wash? I guess I'll just have to figure that one out as I go. But, this was quite a simple process. Just print, dry, rinse, iron, cut, sew, and voila!


This is just the beginning of my weekend accomplishments. What have you been working on lately? I'd love to know.

19 October 2007

Getting Motivated

Ok, sorry for the quietness around here this week. I've spent the better part of it in bed sick. Yeah, I know, it sucks. I made a few sad attempts to go to work, but ended up at home drinking lots of tea, watching some movies and reading a lot. I was seriously wishing that I had a knitting project going, and definitely lacked the energy to actually start something.

However, I did manage to get some crafting done during a few spurts of energy. First on my list (where it's been for quite some time) was a birthday present for my cousin. I wasn't planning on posting this until next week after she'd received it, but I have it on good authority that she doesn't really read this, plus there was nothing else exciting going on here this week.


After my craft/gardening apron frenzy of this summer, I'd been really wanting to make some full sized aprons to sell. Well, thanks to my cousin (sister of the birthday girl), for commissioning this apron as a birthday gift and finally giving me that little kick in the butt to try this out.


I literally traced the shape of an apron my mom bought me a few years ago. I added these pockets and the hen embroidery. Jared told me it's too cute to be an apron, because who would want to get it dirty. I think that's a compliment.


In any case, I also made this little zippy pouch as the gift from myself. We're back to the bird theme clearly. The embroidered zippy pouches are a project that I'd envisioned a few months ago, when I first got into the whole embroidery thing. It seems I just needed a birthday to finally try out some long awaited projects. Well, I've now got another five embroidered zippy pouches in progress, with the hopes of completing them over the weekend. I've been doing slow crafting for the past few months and I have certainly not kept up with my plan to update the shop frequently throughout the fall. So I'm trying to get back on that train.

I hope you all have lovely weekends out there, crafting or not!

15 October 2007

One by one

So today is Blog Action Day. I read about it last week in a couple different places out there in blogland, and I thought that the idea of lots and lots of bloggers all writing about the same topic on the same day was really nice and unifying. The topic is the environment. I also really appreciate that the organizers didn't try to influence what bloggers should write about the environment, just that we all start talking about it some more, no matter what our perspectives or opinions are.

I spent a little while debating with myself about what I should write about. I thought about writing about food- you know local, gardening, etc. I thought about writing about biking and driving less, and using alternative fuels (like biodiesel). But I decided to stick with an old favorite and write about recycling/reducing/reusing. In my crafting life, this is probably the most environmentally friendly thing that I can do: reuse materials, and reduce consumption by making things myself. There are so so many directions I can take this topic in, but I'll try to stay focused.


For as long as I can remember, I've been in love with thrifting. Primarily clothing when I was younger, and now pretty much all household goods and anything else I might ever need. In crafting, I try to buy as much used fabric, ribbon, thread, and notions as I can. One reason is that I love vintage fabric, stylewise. But it's more than just style. Mainly, I just can't not reuse perfectly good materials that still have life in them. I remember reading something when I was younger about a girl who always, upon entering a thrift store, imagined the previous owners of all the clothes in the store. I have to admit- I don't do that. Mostly, I imaging the future owners of the products that I'll make with those materials.


Hmm, I don't feel like I'm saying anything revolutionary here. I'm sure most of you out there reading this already agree with me, so I feel like I'm kind of preaching to the choir right now. So I'll just say this: I am so overwhelmed by the amount of "stuff" out there. I can only imagine how much stuff is being made out there in all the factories around the world even as I sit here at my kitchen table and write this. Sometimes I feel so small in that context. But that's how change happens. People begin buying used one by one. We make handmade gifts one by one. We bring our own bags to the grocery store one by one. We support local, independent businesses one by one. And we can reduce consumption and waste one by one.

11 October 2007

Fall Cooking

I know that I've mentioned a few times that fall has arrived, so I thought I'd share with you all some of the fall cooking that's been going on here this week. Last year Jared and I got into a wonderful habit of making a big pot of soup or chili or something of that sort at the beginning of the week, and then eating it for the rest of the week. It worked out really nicely, because I always had a lunch to take to work (which I am sometimes left without after those occasional, ahem, nights when we have popcorn or black beans and chips for dinner). And of course, we could just freeze the rest if we started to get sick of it. We haven't been doing this lately, since I'm not really all that into hot soup in the summer, but since fall is back, so is the soup.


The first installment of this routine is Moroccan Lentil Soup, from Fields of Greens by Annie Somerville (who started one of my favorite Vegetarian restaurants in SF- Greens):

Ingredients:
1 cup dried lentils
6 cups cold water
1 tbl extra virgin olive oil
1 medium sized yellow onion, diced (about 2 cups)
Salt to taste
Cayenne pepper to taste
1 small carrot, diced (about 1/2 cup)
1 celery rib, diced (about 1/2 cup)
1 small red or yellow bell pepper (about 1/2 cup)
1 tsp cumin seed, toasted and ground
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/8 tsp turmeric
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tbl grated fresh ginger
1/2 lb fresh tomatoes peeled, seeded and chopped (about 1 cup) or 1 8oz. can chopped tomatoes with juice.
2 tbl chopped cilantro (for garnish)

1. Sort and rinse lentils and place them in a soup pot with the cold water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until tender (about 20 minutes).
2. While the lentils are cooking, heat the olive oil in a medium-sized saute pan and add the onion, 1/2 tsp salt, and a few pinches of cayenne. Cook over medium heat until the onions are soft (7-8 minutes) then add the vegetables, another 1/2 tsp salt, and the spices (I didn't have the patience to toast and grind cumin seed- so I just used ground cumin). Cook for 5 minutes, then stir in garlic and ginger and cook for another minute or two. Add the vegetables and tomatoes to the lentils and their broth. Cover and cook for about 30 minutes, allowing the flavors to blend and deepen (yum!). Season to taste with salt and cayenne. Garnish each serving with a sprinkle of cilantro. (Makes 8-9 cups)


And of course, what meal would be complete without dessert?? I'm still working my way through the last of the apples (um, yeah, about that...), so I tried out one of the yummy recipes from the Voluptuous Vegan by Myra Kornfeld: Apple-Walnut Crisp (vegan of course).

Ingredients:
Oat-Nut Topping-
1 cup walnut halves
3/4 cup rolled oats
2/3 cup unbleached white flour
1/2 cup maple sugar
1/4 tsp salt
6 tbl canola oil
2 tbl water
1 tsp cinnamon for dusting the top
1 tsp maple sugar for dusting the top

Apple Filling-
3 lbs medium apples (I used McIntosh, obviously, but any kind would work)
1/2 cup dried cherries, halved
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
2 tbl maple syrup
1 tbl maple sugar
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp lemon zest
pinch of sea salt
1/4 cup apple cider or juice

1. Make the topping: Preheat to 350. Toast walnuts in oven for 10 minutes and then rub them against a strainer to loosen the skins. Increase oven temp to 400. Chop walnuts into small pieces. In a medium bowl, toss together oats, flour, sugar, walnuts and salt. Drizzle in oil, stirring lightly. Add water and toss. The topping should be crumbly like wet sand. Mix cinnamon and sugar in a separate bowl and set aside.
2. Make the filling: Peel and core the apples. Slice them into 1/4 inch slices and cut each slice into thirds. In a large bowl toss all filling ingredients together. Pour into an 8x8 inch baking dish.
3. Sprinkle the topping over the apples evenly, completely covering the apples. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar over the top.
4. Bake for 15 minutes at 400, then reduce heat to 350 and bake and additional 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

*Note: I used regular sugar instead of maple sugar, because, well, maple sugar is really expensive. The regular sugar worked just fine, but I'm sure the maple would taste better. I also skipped the dried cherries.

And as an added bonus, this makes a super yummy breakfast the next day!

Phew, long post. Let me know if you try out any of these recipes, and have a lovely weekend, whether it's filled with cooking or not.

09 October 2007

A new project...

No, no, not this dress (I wish!). This is the dress that I bought last week in my frenzy of worrying that I was going to freeze my little tushie off at this wedding last Sunday. It's wool. Then I worried that I was going to be cold, because it has no arms. Let's just say, it wasn't cold at all. It was a muggy 80 degrees, so I'm pretty thankful to this designer who had the foresight for a fall wedding- amidst completely unpredictable weather.


I love this dress- maybe I'll start wearing it daily? And did I mention that it has pockets?! Oh yeah. Also, apparently, purple is my color. Let's just see where this one takes us.

Meanwhile, do we all remember the book insanity that took place a few months ago over here? Well, anyways, I still have not made one darn project from Bend the Rules. What have I been doing all summer? I took this opportunity of a new dress, to make a new bag. Again, just hours before we packed up the car to head over to Wisconsin. So here it is, my version of the "artsy clutch."


I've been having some serious fabric blocks recently, and it's been taking me longer to actually pick out the fabric for some recent projects than it has to actually make the thing. Maybe this means that I need new fabric, hmm? Stay tuned for that one...

Serious apologies for these terribly blurry photos. We didn't take many photos over the weekend, so I put the dress on this afternoon and did my best self-photo taking (still working on that one).

05 October 2007

Apples to Apples

I was looking over some recent posts yesterday and noticed that I had mentioned my excitement for "all the apple yumminess that will arrive soon." Man, I must have been having a seriously clairvoyant moment back on September 25 when I wrote that.

Last weekend when Jared and I went camping for my birthday, I had insisted that we go apple picking on the way home. Well, it was pouring on the way home, so we didn't do any picking. But we did stop at the Pine Tree Orchard in White Bear Lake, MN (a serious apple operation over there, let me tell ya. And also apparently the number one job for White Bear Lake high school students). I couldn't decide how many apples to get, but being a little ambitious with my canning plans, I decided on half a bushel (about 20-25 pounds). When I asked for that amount, the lady behind the counter asked if I would take a whole bushel for the same price ($24!). Ok, of course (to Jared's serious dismay) I said yes.



So we ended up with this box of about 45 pounds of apples. Next year, I think I'll buy my bushel of apples on Friday so I have the whole weekend to can and bake. Because dealing with what turned out to be 86 second grade Mcintosh apples every evening of a conveniently busy week has been a lot to handle.



Jared's uncles lent us their food dehydrator- which I have to say, has been awesome (there might be one of these in my near future). And I made apple butter for the first time, and lots and lots of apple sauce. As I write this, there are apple muffins and a loaf of apple bread in the oven. And this still leaves me with 24 more apples. In my near future, I see more apple butter, a pie, some more bread, and oh yeah, maybe a birthday cake for Jared...





Lots of work, but lots of fun. Canning isn't really a "city thing" to do, and even in my adventures as a rural vermonter, I had never canned anything before this summer. I gotta say I love it. I love the idea of preserving food for future seasons, and the connection that I feel like there is to all those before me (I think in my family, it was way before me, but still) who carried on this tradition, because that was just what you did, and bringing this tradition back to life for myself and my future family.



We're off to what promises to be a beautiful fall weekend wedding in Wisconsin (my first trip to Wisconsin!) this weekend. I hope you all have a wonderful few days, whatever you're up to.

PS: "Apples to Apples" is the name of my new favorite board game. It turns out, coincidentally, that I rock at it! I highly recommend it if you're in the market for board games.

04 October 2007

Look what I did! or Fashion Thursday

So Klay started this thing called Fashion Thursday. Just a fun little way for some bloggers to show off any fashionable outfits or clothing. I realize as I'm getting a little older (this has nothing to do with the recent birthday) and as I'm sewing more and spending more time around beautiful fabrics, that I'm beginning to pay a little more attention to my clothing. I guess I'm just tired of looking shlumpy like I did for so many years back in school.



Anyways, I mentioned that I had visited the Built By Wendy store when I was in New York and picked up a couple of patterns. I had also been working on a "basic shirt" from the Sew U book, but that project is on hiatus since it came out huge and I'm trying to figure out a way to make it smaller and still fit right. Anyways, I tackled this one first, since I've seen it all over blogland and flickrland in the past few months. As soon as I started working on it, I realized that I had no elastic (I was planning on just making the top). So I used the neck and sleeves from the dress pattern and the body from the shirt pattern.



I think it came out pretty darn good. I had to finagle the back of the neck a bit since, with this neckline, there's supposed to be a zipper. I just added a couple of vintage buttons (I definitely need to work on my buttonhole skills). I'm so proud of myself! And certainly can't wait to make many more of these.

PS: Thanks so much for all the sweet birthday wishes! I had a great day and it's so touching to hear from all of you out there in blogland.

01 October 2007

25

That's right folks. I'm a quarter century old. As I said before, I'm not much for making a big deal out of my birthday, but I thought I'd share with you all some of my hopes for year 25.

:continuing to settle into life in Minnesota. More exploring and continuing to find my own community and niche here.


:more learning, always more learning. And continuing to pursue my DIY goals, in the kitchen, in the garden, in the craftroom, and in life.


:connecting and reconnecting with family and friends (both old and new ones alike).


:health and happiness for myself and all my loved ones around me (love you mom!)


Jared and I took a nice camping trip up to northern MN this past weekend. More photos to come, but here's a peek.