Saturday, April 21, 2012

Cute as a Button Bunny (as promised)

As promised, here's some pictures of the present I made for my friend's newborn. I crocheted the bunny then made her a little dress because she seemed like a modest gal. No naked bunny boobies here. (Too far?) Her head is permanently cocked to one side- because I attached it crooked. But it's kinda cute, like she's giving you a coy little smirk.

I love to imagine a cuddly toy like this nestled under a sleeping arm, or dragged along behind a tumbling toddler. The button eyes are secured pretty tightly, but if you were a stickler or worried parent they could be replaced with embroidery like the nose.

Back when my little niece was a baby, I made her a similar bunny. She's now 2 years old. In January, I had a half hour phone conversation with her on her birthday. It's so hard to believe all this time has passed. She's so grown up already.

I miss my sister's little ones. I might be due for a visit. I'll see them in June for the Huff Family Reunion, but maybe before then I can sneak up to Ann Arbor for a fix.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Swinging with my Singer in the Spring

I've had a good time getting reacquainted with my old fold-away Singer sewing machine these past few weeks. It had been packed away in my parent's garage for several years while I was a more transient person. I was certain that when I unwrapped it I would discover spider's nests and rusted pieces. But then, I hooked her up and tried a straight stich. To my suprise, besides a little burning oil smell (much like the sweet Christmas odor of my dad's old Lionel Train set), the thing runs fine! 

I have to say, I had missed the bobbin winder on this thing - it does it right in place! No moving the bobbin around. I love the ease. Now, the feeders and the needle alignment could use some improvement. It might be time for a Sewing Machine Doctor visit.

I've enjoyed making a mess of my craft room lately. It is a wonderful luxury to have a space that I've reserved for creating things. I'm doing a decent job of keeping the projects confined so the room can also be functional for guests.

After the hubbub of Easter dissipated, I took on a project I had been eyeing on Pinterest. I don't really do racer-back shirts, though so I tweaked the concept and tried (operative word is TRIED) to use a good fitting tank as a loose template to shape the men's shirt into a blousey tank. In my eagerness to make something in a short window of time, I didn't consider the difference in fabric enough and the result was a tiny tiny vest that didn't close in the front. After adding a back panel constructed from left over sleeve pieces and under arm gussets I finally had a shirt that fit- but it isn't all that blousey. I enjoyed making the bias tape for the edging, it really gave it a finished feeling. I also added a little hook and eye between the 2nd and 3rd buttons to prevent gaping.

I think the final look is still pretty cute - if not a little bit Amishly modest. The added panel and gussets actually give it some neat structural details. I've already worn the shirt once, with a belt. I think it will be nice to have a few of this type of shirt for the summer. Breezy and loose. I like the sound of it. I also like the sound of summer.

As I was dismembering the men's button up shirt for this project I kept the collar intact. I wondered if I could pull it off as a necklace. I don't know. It might require a certain amount of fashion confidence to pull off in public but it was fun to fiddle with in private. I think I like the skewed look, personally. It has a scarf feeling with more structure.

A work friend of mine and his wife just had their 3rd child and first girl, Shiloh. I spent the last couple evenings hunching over something cute for them. I want to give it to him first before I spread pictures of it on here. So get ready for cute. Feels good to be making things. God sure gave me some fun talents to keep me busy. 

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Two Weeks Absent - A Recap

It has been a long hard couple weeks of lots of work work work and little play play play. I am looking forward to the weather getting warmer again and perhaps a wrist on the mend from overuse. As a result of the busy-ness I have been exhausted, and thusly really neglectful of this space. Here's a quick recap of recent creative outlets and life events:

Easter.  My church hosted an amazing Easter service at the UD arena in Dayton. 7,500 people were in the stadium and another 500+ in the children's tent hanging out with me. It was an amazing experience. I build three spacey costumes for myself and two friends to wear as we lead worship for the kiddos. Poly-tubing cover makes for some Jetson fashions, let me tell you. 

photo by emilee hermon

Overall, What an awesome day! I, like many others, may have had my doubts about holding the service at such a large arena. (Seating is up to 13,000!) But people showed up in droves, and it was a really fantastic morning filled with great community feelings and an overwhelming sense of hope for a city rejuvenating itself.

The event name was "Crazy Hope".The music was crazy huge, the volunteerism was crazy organized, the whole thing was crazy inspiring. And by the end I was crazy tired. Still am. Tomorrow is my first day off in forever. I am crazy excited.

photo by lindsay hefner

It was kind of weird how my parents (who also served at the event) and I were too tired for regular Easter-type festivities and ended up noshing at Smashburger instead of having family dinner time with ham and scalloped potatoes. Perhaps a new tradition has begun?

photo by guy r. clemons 

Gardening. I have been trying to grow some plants in my back patio area and have succeeded at starting some kale. My lettuce seed are fighting hard against the frosty mornings but seem to be losing the battle. Kale is awesome, though. I love to eat it and I'm happy it's hardy like me.

Online Pruning. I spent a couple hours reading through the content of my old livejournal (which I wrote in ca. 2003-2008) and collecting the content for posterity before deleting it from the blogosphere.

Reading those 293 PDF pages of pure mush made me realize that I spent a good deal of my early twenties being pretty unhappy. It was a hard realization to make, as when I look back on that time of my life (mainly, the college era) I conjure up positive memories. My journal tells me that I was often lonely, often grumpy, often feeling misplaced and depressed. Sometimes, right now, I do feel lonely and wish for a relationship. But holy moly, looking back on those times when I was in a serious, long term relationship (one that I thought was "the one", in fact!) I realize that I am much happier now than I was then. I love my life, my family, my friends. I see my calling in life much more clearly. I think I'm great. And I really do see the "glass huff full" most of the time. Life is good!

Nephew Turns 4. I totally scored when I found this awesome plane attachment for my nephew's bike. The face says it all, right? (Also - isn't he adorable?!) I cannot believe this munchkin is four. Where has time gone?

The coming week promises me more time for myself and some summery projects I have in mind. I also have some interesting prospects in other areas of my life. Spring has sprung. Here goes nothing.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Tossed Together Curry and Cold Packs

This weekend's activities (ie. frisbee, corn hole & tennis) have my old woman wrist acting up like it did when I played first seed in high school. I spent the day groaning or yelping (much to my coworkers' dismay and amusement) like a sissy every time I put weight on my right wrist or twisted it the wrong way. It made for some awkward slow reaches for the ringing telephone and mediocre typing.

I had a difficult time chopping the veggies for my dinner, so I decided to do a little R.I.C.E. treatment. Unfortunately, cold packs at the store were too expensive for my taste and my only cold pack was not in the fridge and not really conducive anyway to wrapping around a wrist as it is hard-shelled.  So, while I cooked my curry dinner I wrapped a small pork chop onto my wrist. It worked pretty well until I began to fear that the meat juices would seep out into the wrap. (that didn't happen, I took it off in time.)

The secret ingredient to this meal is Seeds of Change "Madras" a ready-made curry simmer sauce from a brand that I love love love.  But since it's kinda spendy for my budget I like to stretch the jar through two meals. So that the flavors are still full, I spice the veggies well as though I don't have the paste, and then add it very last so that the paste doesn't cook down too much over the heat.

I'm proud to say that I scored my veggies off the $.99 discounted produce rack at my local grocery. I don't know if you have one of these magical veggie goldmines in your hometown, but if you do you need to frequent that sucker hardcore. The cauliflower needed some trimming and the tomatoes were a little soft, but seriously. Veggies on the cheap are the bomb!

my brother-in-law MADE this chef's knife for me - cool, right?!

Tossed-Together Veggie Curry 
  • 1 small head Cauliflower
  • 1/2 Onion
  • Garlic chopped
  • Kale (several leaves)
  • 2 Roma Tomatoes 
  • Turmeric
  • Hot Curry Powder
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Red Pepper Flakes
  • Jalepeno Flakes
  • Olive Oil
  • 1/2 jar Seeds of Change Madras Simmer Sauce 
Briefly Sauté Cauliflower, Onion and a clove of chopped garlic in olive oil in hot pan. Add spices to taste. I like hot foods so I turn up the heat with red pepper flakes and jalepeno in addition to curry and tumeric. Sometimes a little all-spice type flavor is nice in this, too. 

I don't measure, just taste along the way. (YOU CAN DO IT, TOO!) Just do it gradually so you don't get too spicy for your palette.

Add water to the mixed up spices and cauliflower and stir around well till everything is nice and turmeric yellow. Cook down (adding more water as needed- don't let it all go away, you want this to be WET) until the cauliflower is done (a fork cuts easily into it). Cut thick stems out of kale and chop into small nickle-sized pieces. Toss kale on top of your steaming cauliflower as it cooks and then mix it up. After the kale's looking yummy, dark green and a bit wilty add chopped tomatoes and simmer sauce. 

kale before and after

Cook to a simmer (That's why it's called simmer sauce!) and serve over rice. I made microwave instant because this meal wasn't about patience. But it sure was tasty, and best thing about it is I have another serving in the fridge for a lunch later this week.

dinner is served!

After realizing my pork wrist wrap was almost defrosted, it seemed I needed to remedy my cold pack situation immediately. After dinner, I took a couple minutes to do a little facebook reconnaissance and Pinterest research. The result? Two cute as a button rice-filled squares cooling down in my freezer as we speak.

Thrown Together Rice Hot/Cold Packs
I threw them together just like this- easy peasy:

  1. Cut two identical squares of fabric and 2 matching muslin squares for a liner. 
  2. Sew together good sides in with the muslin sandwiching the cover fabric. 
  3. Leave a 2 inch gap in order to turn the whole shebang inside-in. And then turn. 
  4. Fill with rice. (regular, not instant) 
  5. Sew hole shut. PRESTO!
Having two means never having to wait for your cold pack to cool down. Just trade the luke warm one for the freezer fresh version and repeat. And the cold packs cost a whopping $.30 each to construct.  The vintage reproduction fabric was a gift from my Aunt and the rice I had on hand, so I actually spent no money. Take that, drugstore rip offs with gooey gels.

So, there you have it. Craft and fine dining don't have to be spendy or well-thought-out. Sometimes you just gotta go at it without a real game plan. Because you're hungry and your wrist hurts. I love last- moment crafts. 
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