Patchwork Scarves, or the Last Project of 2008

>> Wednesday, December 31, 2008

As Michelle correctly guessed, the image I last posted was scarves. I taught myself how to make them this week, primarily because I want one to match my purple wool coat. Of course, I need to finish that one! However, these are the ones I did complete:

And here are a couple images with the full scarf pattern more visible:

And on my model (and first recipient):

Though she's not wearing it in the picture, I designed the scarf with her green coat (and favorite color) in mind. Both scarves are backed with soft, warm yellow fleece. The fleece was leftover from the quilt I made for my mom, and at about 60" it's the perfect length for scarves. I didn't have any particular pattern in mind and, as you can see, I experimented with 2 different patchwork varieties. Making the scarves is much less time intensive than making a quilt and, as such, it is immensely -- if not quite instantly -- gratifying. I'm looking forward to making more in 2009.

And with that, Happy New Years Eve!


What Is It?

>> Sunday, December 28, 2008

My latest crafty project, started last night:

What is it? Any guesses? Leave them in the comments section and I'll let you know who is right.

My sleepy friend aided the project:

His pillow is new to him, a gift from my sister's college stuff stash in my parents' basement. He pushed the pillow under the table to make himself a cave. The stuffing surrounding him represents the remnants of an animal he has destroyed, one of Max's favorite activities. He also picked up a new toy, a frog named Pesach, from Seagrams' toy collection at my parents' house. Luckily he didn't try and steal Gefilte, Seagrams' favorite toy. That might have meant all out war between the dogs as Seagrams is rather territorial, to put it mildly.

Max also woke me up this morning at 4.56 am with his (unusual-for-him) roaming around the house. I think the wind may have scared him as it's been intense all morning. Because I let him out then, thinking perhaps that would help and encourage him to return to a sleepy state, I know that the crazy temperature drop from yesterday's wacky 60s weather to the more normal 30s weather didn't start until this morning. At about 5 am, it was still relatively warm outside...

p.s. this is my 100th post!


A Quilt for Claire & Michael

>> Saturday, December 27, 2008

Red shoes: check
Red wallet: check
Red pots: check

When thinking about what quilt to make for Claire & Michael, I knew it had to include red. While Claire doesn't wear much red, she has quite a few red accessories and it just felt like the right color. I hoped Michael would agree!

Hewing more closely to a quilt pattern than ever before, I made them a version of "Peppermint Twist" from Evelyn Sloppy's 40 Fabulous Quick-Cut Quilts (111-3).

If you were wondering what this stack and this border comprised, here it is in its (almost) entirety.

I started with the white-fabric-with-red-flowers I used in the middle and selected other fabrics to complement it.

I had just enough to make the quilt center and thought the red-with-white-curliques matched it well.

In looking for a striped border fabric (that I also used for the binding) I found the diagonal stripes. The more I sewed it, the more I liked it. I particularly appreciate that the lines are slightly irregular, with some thicker and some thinner and sometimes three thin lines between two thick ones and other time three varying widths lined up together. It's a little hard to see, but I mimicked the irregularities in the quilting by staggering the diagonal lines.

I backed the quilt with soft red fleece -- I'm still finding some tufts of it around my house. With the borders, the quilt is about 62" x 62" -- a nice lap quilt size that I hope Michael and Claire will use for years to come. I can imagine curling up under it to read on Friday nights after shabbat dinner as I know is their custom.


Unintended Hiatus

>> Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Apologies for my unintended hiatus over the past week. Traveling, canines, and a conference got the better of me. But I promise quilt pictures are forthcoming now that the latest completed quilt is in its new owners' hands. More tomorrow!


A Little Taste

>> Wednesday, December 17, 2008

....of a project finished but not yet in the hands of its recipient. I'll post more pictures and the story behind this quilt project when the package arrives in the hands of its new owners. Hopefully the delivery will not take too long, but one never knows with these things...


Dogs and Delectable Delights

>> Monday, December 15, 2008

I'm in the midst of 2 quilt projects, both of which I hope to finish in the next couple of days. Once they're in the hands of their recipients, I'll post pictures. I'm also hoping to get a few holiday gift coasters made in the next 2 days. It'll be a busy 2 days of crafting.

But I have a loyal furry friend nearby: he pushed his pillow under the table with my sewing machine to create a cave for himself. Speaking of Max, most nights he heads into his crate by himself and contentedly (I assume) sleeps there until morning.

Unless he hears something.

Like my roommate ascending the back staircase and entering the apartment in the middle of the night.

Then he has to bark to, you know, protect me from intruders with keys to the apartment.

But I digress. Last night he was still awake when I went to bed. This was my fault as I went to see Australia (a pretty good settler colony/WWII epic, if really two movies squished into one) and only took him for his evening constitutional at 11.30 pm. So he was awake when I went to my room to sleep. As I read a book in bed, I heard a certain creature breathing/snoring outside my door.

Yep, Max decided that he wasn't tired enough for his crate and sprawled his 75 pounds outside my door. The thing is, I know what he was trying to do. He was trying to be cute enough to be let inside the bedroom. But I've only given into that trick once, the night before I moved away from Madison. He'll probably be successful at the trick again, on his last night with me here. But until then, he gets led back to his crate where I found him still asleep this morning. It's pretty gray and ugly, so he has the right idea.

Aside from the Max story, I can offer you two delectable delights.
1) Custom, stylish, and vegetarian bags from Laura Bee Designs

I'm particularly fond of Chelsea at the moment. And you can learn more about Laura Bee at their blog. I wonder if Laura Bee is related to Queen Bee? I didn't find anything in FAQs suggesting a connection to the Portland-based non-custom but still very cool vegetarian bag company. (Go vinyl!). * I have a kickin' whale wallet but it seems that it is no longer being made. But the velocity tote is pretty fun.

[Ironically, for all my bag lust, I use the same backpack--free gifts are great--almost every day.]

And thanks to Claire for the the Laura Bee link.

*And Torie points out that vinyl is bad, very bad for the environment. Shoot. There goes some nice non-leather bag options. But QueenBee does make some cool felted wool items, made of ReWool which comes from recycled textiles.

2. Petebakes offers a soft pretzel recipe today. Yum. And I do love mustard, all sorts of mustard, on my soft pretzels.


Friday Recipe: Quick, Easy, and Colorful Pasta Salad

>> Friday, December 12, 2008

This is a bright, delicious, and fast meal that is ideal to eat alone and to serve to others. It's basically a one pot meal, which makes clean-up fast. Thanks to Claire for initially introducing me to this colorful combination.

Quick, Easy, and Colorful Pasta Salad
Serves ~4

1 lb whole-wheat pasta (I like the corkscrews, but penne or another big shape can work too)
16 oz. fresh mozzarella balls
12 oz. jar of kalamata olives
16 oz. cherry or grape tomatoes
fresh spinach or arugula
olive oil

1. Boil pasta.
2. Cut mozzarella balls and tomatoes in half.
3. Drain pasta and put in a large bowl or back in the pot.
4. Drizzle with olive oil.
5. Add mozzarella, olives, tomatoes, and spinach/arugula

6. Add salt and pepper to taste.
7. Mix well.

8. Enjoy!

*The arugula/spinach will wilt when it mixes with the hot pasta which is why it's better and easier to use fresh leaves.

*Arugula is more bitter than spinach, so keep this in mind when deciding which to select.

*Green olives work too!


Black and Red and Blue All Over?

>> Thursday, December 11, 2008

This one and his awesome owner are coming tonight.

Until then, Must. Finish. Paper.

But, wait, I got this book in the mail yesterday (thank you mom!) and this one too (thank you me!). Craft ideas are on the edge of explosion in my head. If I stay on task (see paper, above), Sunday can be a grand old crafting day.


A Tree for My Wall?

>> Tuesday, December 9, 2008

I have a big blank wall in my dining room just waiting for a tree mural. A friend of a friend painted gorgeous flowers, butterflies, and grasslands on a small wall near my friends' entry/kitchen, and I've been wanting to do something similar ever since. As I've searched through the blogosphere for good ideas, I've found plenty of Goldilocks-and-the-three-bears-style inspiration:

Helpful how-to instructions but a little too graffiti-ish for me.
From how to paint a tree on my wall from Apartment Therapy.

Beautiful but a little too delicate for me.
From Design*Sponge's Sneak Peek at Catherine Weis' house.

Whimsical but too narrow.
From Juicy Bits (nice blog header, by the by) Home Sweet Tree

Three-dimensional but too small.
Jessica Jones' Japanese Maple over at How About Orange.

Focus on the wall and ignore the pink bedroom.
I think this is the tree for me, though I'd paint it rather than felt it.
From Cup of Coco's Custom Room.

A close-up.
I think I might combine this tree design with Jessica Jone's three-dimensional leaves for an fun wall.

Now I just need to figure out how to translate these ideas onto the wall. Any and all tips are welcome!


Featured on SMS' Holidays at Home

>> Monday, December 8, 2008

My coaster tutorial has been featured on Sew Mama Sew's Holidays at Home blog. Check out SMS daily for new ideas. See my coaster section to see other coasters I've made, and check out my etsy shop if you'd like to buy coasters (commissions welcome).

For those of you who are new to two hippos, welcome! Please look around and say hello. I love getting and responding to all of your comments.


A Non-Friday Recipe: Green Curry Soup

I stumbled upon this amazing cooking blog/website yesterday. 101 Cookbooks is chock full of healthy vegetarian recipes. I have a dinner party menu of recipes to try as a result of scrolling (and drooling) through the archives. Inspired by the options, I made "In a Hurry Green Curry" soup last night. Yum!

This is the recipe from the website, and I explain my modifications below.

2 teaspoons green curry paste*
scant 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 14-ounce can coconut milk (light ok)
1 large onion, sliced
14 ounces water or light vegetable broth
6 ounces of firm tofu cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 cup peas, fresh or frozen
2 cups asparagus, cut into 1/2-inch segments
squeeze of fresh lime juice
1/4 cup small basil leaves

In a large thick bottom pot over medium heat whisk the curry paste with the salt and a small splash of the coconut milk. Simmer for just a minute. Add the onion and saute until it softens up, just a minute or so. Add the rest of the coconut milk and broth and simmer for another five minutes. Taste and adjust for flavor - this would be the time to add more curry paste if needed (see headnotes).

Stir in the tofu and (JUST BEFORE SERVING) the peas and asparagus, simmer for just a minute or two, just long enough for the vegetables to cook a bit. Finish the pot with a squeeze of lime and basil leaves. Taste, and adjust seasoning again if needed.

Serves 4.

My alterations:
1. The fridge lacked asparagus but contained broccoli (3/4 head) so I subbed in the green trees. I added the stalks (to let them cook longer), then the crowns, then the tofu, and then the peas.

2. I used more tofu than the recipe calls for, just to add some extra protein (and use the block I had).

3. I skipped the basil because I didn't have any on hand. Also, I often find basil overpowering in Thai soups so I figured I'd like it without the basil and I did.

Other Notes:
*I think this would be a great base for a rice noodle soup.

*It's a great pareve/vegan recipe. One could meatify it with chicken but why damage a delightful vegetarian option?


Midnight Sledding in the Arb

>> Sunday, December 7, 2008

Slip-slidey, post-snow fun.

2 cafeteria trays + 3 long thin plastic sleds = good times for 5 people.

After 4-5 inches of snow fell yesterday, we headed over to the Arb, whose hills send you swiveling downward. The snow pants were key as most runs end careening down a hill (not too fast, mom) and falling off the sled/tray to some degree. We worked in a few tandem runs, some of which allowed us to make it farther down the hill, some of which did not.

Prior to midnight sledding, we headed over the Corner Brewery for the Shadow Art Fair. Beer, crafts, a little trivial pursuit...we could all handle the cover of $.02 and $3 beer.

Of the vendors I saw, my favorite was All Things Grow:

all images from her etsy site

Marcy screenprints on paper and canvas and said she'd be adding lots of stuff to her shop this week. She also has a blog, and it turns out she is a sign designer for Trader Joe's. Very cool.

Other fun tables included Rifferaff. Of her cards, Sprout is my favorite:

image from etsy
Check out her blog for more information.

made me laugh:

image from here

Find Spatula Mouse here

images from their etsy site

There was also a fantastically punny one with cheese curds, but I can't find an image of it. Just imagine it: cute, witty, and all that.

All in all,
crafts + sledding =
a splendiferous evening

(and now it's back to work)


Friday Recipe: Roasted Asparagus

>> Friday, December 5, 2008

Continuing the vegetable theme from last week and offering a simple (to type and to make) recipe, I offer roasted asparagus. Claire introduced me to this asparagus, and it remains one of the few ways I actually like eating asparagus.

Roasted Asparagus
~as much or as little as you want

Olive Oil
Garlic, crushed

1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees.
2. Trim asparagus.
3. Lay asparagus in a single layer on a foil-lined baking sheet.

4. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with crushed garlic, salt, and pepper to taste.
5. Roast at 500 degrees for ~ 12 minutes. (Thicker asparagus may need more time.)

*I prefer thin asparagus, but do as you wish.

*Like with any cooking, the better olive oil you use, the better the dish will be.


At Least They're Colorful

Stack o'books waiting
to get integrated in
to an argument.

And on the non-crappy haiku front, a (simple) Friday recipe is forthcoming.


Grinning Wild Things

>> Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Aren't these slippers great? Yeah, I thought so.

The end of the semester beckons, and I have 2 more papers to write before any real crafting resumes. In the meantime, however, you can procrastinate like I did this morning. Head on over to Sew, Mama, Sew's Giveaway Day and enter lots of blog giveaway contests.

If you have to justify it to yourself, just say the Wild Things made you do it.


The Post Office

>> Tuesday, December 2, 2008

I finally mailed this baby quilt. Sometimes it takes a while to acquire addresses...if you're reading this, Jared, now you know why I asked for yours. Perhaps I'm spoiling the surprise, but I'm pretty sure he's guiding people around Israel, recovering from guiding people around Israel, or taking care of the kids, so I'm not too concerned.

In any event, this quilt is for Adiv Lior (nice name selection, I approve) but also serves as a thank you to Jared who kept my vegetarian stomach very happy last June when I staffed an Israel-by-Bike trip he guided. There might also have been engaging conversations, stimulating discussions, and sarcastic commentary that enhanced the experience.

As a little plug for his livelihood, Jared is the best experiential educator I've worked with or observed, so if you're looking for an educator or a guide, contact him soon. His schedule fills fast.

Notable observations from the post office:
1. It seems that most people do not address their envelopes and packages ahead of time. Maybe it was just the ten people in line in front of me who don't bother to address their mail ahead of time. I've never encountered this phenomenon before, but almost every person ahead of me walked up to the counter, asked about rates, and was then sent by the postal worker to the side to address their assortment of envelopes and packages.

2. A FedEx delivery guy walked into the post office with an envelope addressed to someone's PO Box. But the post office won't place anything in a PO Box that does not have USPS postage affixed. Thus I learned why one should never FedEx anything to a PO Box or request that something be FedExed to a PO Box; it can't be delivered.


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