25 December 2008

Merry Christmas!

We are enjoying the holidays in sunny Florida. We've been watching the Weather Channel each morning, and observing the wrath of Old Man Winter on the rest of the nation. Luckily for us, it's been in the low 80s and mostly sunny here. :)

09 December 2008

Sick day

I'm back in Blogland! Yep, sick again. The same thing I had before, but I went to the doctor earlier this time. Hopefully, that means that I'll get better sooner! Actually, it better mean that I am healthier sooner, because now is not the time to be sick!

I've got 2 parties at work this week, (one of which I am helping to organize), the Downtown Holiday Market and Celebration of Mrs. Wiechelt's Life this weekend. Then next week is the home stretch to Winter Break which means I have to get cracking on the babies' presents! At least I think I have finally decided on what to make for them.

I have had a hard time concentrating recently. I think it has been the excitement for Thanksgiving and now the winter holidays coupled with the overwhelming sadness and unfortunate surprise of Karen's death. It was really a reality check for me; things don't just keep going so that you can go to bed and wake up tomorrow. She always encouraged everyone to enjoy life the way it is and savor every moment (and every bite of chocolate). I need to work on that.

In the meantime, I'll share a recipe I made up all on my own! This dashi based soup is great for the freezing cold days we've been having. It's filling, warm, healthy and delicious! Even T agrees and is willing to have it for lunch the next day. :)

3 T Dashi soup base (available in most Asian food stores; look for one with no MSG or where MSG is at least towards the end of the ingredient list; this can be substituted with chicken broth)
4-5 cups water (depends on how much soup you want, you can always add more)
1 lb. pea shoots (tou-miao in Mandarin Chinese)
1 cup diced celery
1 cup sliced kamoboko fish cake
1 cup firm tofu
1 lb. somen noodles

1. Wash the pea shoots very throroughly (there are often little teeny bugs). Peel off the leaves and discard the stems.
2. Heat the water on medium high heat, it doesn't need to be boiling and stir in the dashi to dissolve. It will look like miso soup broth.
3. When the water is hot, add the noodles and pea shoot leaves.
4. While the noodles and leaves are softening, slice the tofu and fish cake. I like to cut them small, but still arge enough to be picked up easily with chopsticks.
5. Add the celery, fish cake and tofu.
6. When everything is heated through, serve and enjoy!

For extra deliciousity, T and I enjoyed this "fruit salad" as our dessert after our soup for lunch today:
1 apple, diced
1 pear, diced
1/2 a pomegranate's worth of seeds

19 November 2008

A community of love

I've been feeling intermittently crafty. I always feel like I want to make something, but when I have the time, I'm not sure what to make. I've been working on a new project, which is going well. Hopefully I'll have some photos to post tonight at least. I've also started (finally) on Christmas gifts, which is a good thing.

I'm distracted because the world lost a wonderful person this past weekend. A friend and colleauge, Karen suffered a series of strokes and was unable to recover. Young, vibrant, colourful (and colour coded) and an embodiment of the school's spirit, we're all missing her very much. Knowing that she never wanted to see anyone unhappy or upset, we are trying to take strength in growing through this together and keeping her spirit alive. She was always so proud of my projects, I'm sure I'll think of something good soon. You should have seen that rainbow this weekend. It was a triple decker and the brightest I've ever seen.

11 November 2008

Shop updated... finally!

Yep, it's true. After all of this time, I have finally added new goodies to the shop. Go over and check it out. Speaking of shop(ping), T and I have been working on our Holiday Wishlists, as requested. This year, we are both creating Wists (Wish + List = Wist) over at wists.com. You can see photos of my "wists" scrolling in the side bar over on the left of the page. You should start a Wist - it's quite easy. Let me know if you need help.

In other news, my sewing machine is back in the shop. This time it's in for a good cleaning. So I'll be working on cutting and carving again this week. I'll be able to pick it up on Thursday, but there will be photos of my other adventures until then!

If you're wondering, that's a Hot and Cold Apple up there. I made them Friday night before the fair, and am I glad I did! They were a huge hit. I only have one left. They are cute and compassionate too. You can store them in the freezer for use on bumps and bruises or you can heat them up in the microwave to warm your fingers and soothe sore muscles. I'll be working on a pear pattern once I get my machine back.

10 November 2008

Not bad

This weekend was not bad. It wasn't great, but not much to complain about. My craft fair on Saturday was alright. There wasn't a particularly good flow of shoppers, but that meant that I had time to do other things. I finished up some animals and got to walk around and actually talk with the other vendors. It was a mix of vendors and crafters; probably about 70% to 30%. So I made a point of stopping at the other crafters' tables. I met AggieBag, WoosWoodLG and another lovely lady who has a long arm quilter. In the end, I still ended up reaching my goal profit which is more than enough to pay for my sewing machine getting its much overdue tune up.

After the fair, T suggested that we could stop at my favourite quilt shop, since we were nearby. The place was hoppin'! Turns out that they were part of a quilt shop hop so people were there spending money to collect a unique quilt patch from each store. If you visited all 12 stores in the hop, you were then entered into a drawing for some quite nice prizes. Apparently, few people get to all 12 stores (not many significant others are willing to spend a whole weekend perusing quilt shops I assume) so the chances of winning are high. Even so, I wasn't about to go running around DC, Maryland and Virginia to get a chance to enter into the contest. But I did have fun picking out some more new fabrics! Plus, I think I can cross another person off of my Christmas list.

Sunday, we went to the Green Festival with Madre. We spent several hours perusing and gathering the latest on what's going on the environmentally friendly community. I made a point of only collecting information (handouts, business cards, etc.) from people I genuinely think I might find useful. Now I just have to go through the bag and organise all that info!

T and I enjoyed a nice dinner at La Madeleine and then went for a walk around Reston Town Center. It must have dropped about 10 degrees over the course of our walk and I started to get pretty cold. Fortunately, there's a new Anthropologie there (next door to Paper Source!). I am liking that store more and more every time I visit. I still don't feel brave enough to wear most of the things they sell, but I can almost always find something I must have. This time, I found 2 things; a little birdie on a grapefruit sugar bowl, complete with a little blue spoon, and a toasty, pink wool coat - which was even on sale! See? Not too bad. :)

05 November 2008

Carving away my time

My sewing machine is sad. It's been doing such a lovely job helping me with all my crazy projects. But all of a sudden yesterday, the top thread tension got all out of whack. No matter what stitch I use or which way I turn the tension dial, the top thread is always too tight. As a result, my trusty friend is going to the shop this afternoon, for the first time ever. Fortunately, wonderful Tran has already called the shop to explain that I have a craft fair this Saturday, so I need my machine back as soon as possible. He explained the problem and it seems we should be able to drop it off this afternoon and pick it up tomorrow! How swell!

So, since my friendly machine is out of commission, I needed something else to occupy myself last night. I recently ordered some new Japanese crafting books. One of them is full of hand carved stamp designs. I love those sorts of books for the inspiration! So I spent the evening last night carving some stamps. I carved a happy cloud, an envelope (sealed with love), the little penguin above and a Silver Lining return address stamp. I did the three little ones first to practice and get myself "in the groove." The return address stamp is pretty awesome also, if I do say so myself. But the penguin one saved me money. I saw this little guy on Etsy a while ago, but decided to wait to buy it. Of course, it sold. So last night, when I was feeling like carving, I knew I had to make him.

03 November 2008

Wishing I could take a nap

Phewf! What a weekend. T and I felt like quite the social butterflies with a social engagement each day. It's hard to believe we were ever more social in college! It was wonderful to be able to spend time with friends and re-connect with people we hadn't had a chance to see for a while. Now if we could only get up to NYC...

In other news, I have had some lovely feedback about the goodies I made (with help from T and Sneetch, of course) for the babies. A couple very nice emails and comments in the hallway. How nice it is to know that your hard work is truly appreciated. Here's a picture of the owl bags which caused much glee and excitement on Friday:

Elsewhere in the blogosphere, See Katie Sew is having a fantastic fabric give away. Even though I'm sure very few people are reading this, I said I'd post about it to spread the word and get myself entered in the contest for an extra 5 entries. :D

31 October 2008

Happy Halloween!

Halloween is actually my least favourite holiday. I dislike all the scary and often disgusting things the stores sell. Halloween as we know it now is so far removed from the way it was originally celebrated generations ago. Perhaps it's because I work with younger children and I worry about them getting truly scared by the stores and the masks and the older children. Or maybe it's just because those things scare me still.

Anyway, I prefer to celebrate Haloween with fun, cute things. So my students are getting little "Boo Boo Bumpkins" in Owl Bags this year. The Bumpkins are just an adapted simple ball pattern with faces, leaves and stems. They're filled with flax seeds and fabric scraps. This way, they can be hot/cold packs. I enclosed a little note inside each owl bag letting the parents know. Also, I wanted them to know that being handmade, the pumpkins should be handled nicely (and not thrown around). I gave away several at the noon time dismissal for the children who would not be staying today, and already heard squeals of excitement. I do love to craft for people who truly appreciate it. :)

30 October 2008

Warm wishes

I've had quilts on the mind recently. A month or so ago, Robin (my friend and co-worker) was telling me about some wonderful glass mosaic classes she's been taking. She even brought one of her works in progress for me to see. I don't think it would be good for me to get into yet another craft. Not only because mosaic-making can get expensive (as with all crafts, I suppose), but because I don't have any more space in my crafting room. So of course, my mind turned to the fabric alternative to glass mosaics; quilts.

I've never made a real quilt before. Mom used to help me construct little "comforters" for my Barbies. They were just little square fabric scraps all sewn together to make something which looked like a mini quilt. But I never did any actual quilting on them; machine or by hand. I suppose that since the weather has been (unseasonably?) cold, I've also been feeling like quilts would be good projects.

Then, an unfortunate but good reason for making a quilt came along. My friend/co-worker/mentor suffered a stroke on Sunday. She has known me since I was 5 or 6. For better or worse, my way of dealing with sad news is to make things. I've been cooking, baking and sewing pretty much all of my free time. I've decide to make her a lap quilt which I think I will try to get all the faculty and staff to sign on the back. I want it to be a reminder to her that we are all thinking of her all the time and miss her very much. I want it to keep her warm while she's recovering and help her to feel more comfortable. I wanted to finish it tonight, but I'm 2-3 hours away from being done, so blogging about it and taking photos will have to do for now.

20 October 2008

Pick a peck

We went apple picking this weekend. It was great to be out in the beautiful October weather. We went to an orchard just about an hour away where they had quite a few different types of apples. We decided to pick just Fujis, which turned out to be a good choice since the Fuji trees were just bursting with apples. The trees are not particularly tall to begin, and with the branches so full of apples, the picking was easy. We picked enough to give a bag to T's family, a bag to my family, a bag for ourselves and a bag for me to bring to school. Sneetch and I were picky about our apples and chose small (cute) ones with no spots at all. T looked for big honkers and didn't care about spots. Turns out the spots easily wash off, so they're all good. And they're certainly crisp, juicy and delicious.

In sewing news, I spent Sunday finishing up the Boo Boo Bumpkins I've been working on for my babies at school. I sewed up their final seams, gave them leaf hair and stems and filled them with flax seeds. Now I just have to make little baggies for them to go into and I'll be all done; two weeks early! Can you believe it? I'll try to get a picture of the lot of them tonight. :)

14 October 2008

Finally recovering

After being sick for over a month with cold/sinus infection/ear infection/bronchitis, I am finally recovering. My doctor insisted I take almost a week off of work and sent me home with a note and instructions: Fluids. Rest. This time, I did actually listen and "rested" at home, spending a lot of time in my crafting room. Fortunately, my sickness backed up against the beautiful Columbus Day weekend!

We spent the weekend in Bethany Beach, where we enjoyed beautiful weather and off-season shopping and exploring in Rehoboth. Who knew there were so many delicious places to eat and interesting little shops! Right on the main entrance to the Rehoboth boardwalk, we found an ice cream shop with what seemed like hundreds of flavors, and a pick and apply your own sprinkles bar!

We biked, walked, ate, I crafted and T worked. All in all a very relaxing and wonderful vacation. Just what the doctor (should have) ordered.

01 October 2008

Over the hump!

Well Crafty Bastards is over. [It was awesome!] And Todd and I are both over big humps at school/work, so we're both feeling like life can return to normal.

Crafty was really a great experience, and we made money on top of it all! Thank you to everyone who came to visit. I'm sorry I didn't get a chance to talk to most of you personally. Also, I'm sorry I didn't get out of my booth to go around and visit all the other cool vendors. Both Todd's family and mine came out and went around shopping, so hopefully that makes up for it. :)

I was so excited about Crafty that I signed up for another fair on Monday. It's going to be in November, and it supports the Westfield High School Orchestra. I have a decent amount of inventory left from Crafty, so I can just plug along and not have to sweat shop like crazy. I'll also be able to take my time working on my displays, which is a first. I'm going to start by making these cool milk crate covers: http://lauragunn.typepad.com/theundercovercrate.pdf

27 July 2008

Summer bounty

One of my favourite things about summer is the huge variety of delicious fruits! We've been visiting a couple of farmer's markets weekly, which has been fun; a great way to start the weekend. But even more fun is visiting a pick your own farm. This weekend we visited Butler's Orchard in Maryland. It's a mere half hour drive from us, which seemed almost too close to "civilization" to be a good farm. We were a little skeptical. But once we got out to the gravel and then dirt roads, we knew this place wasn't going to be a little garden plot. It's a very well organised place which uses a collection of signs to direct people to their picking destinations so that the staff can man the shop. We went for the blackberries, but also picked some red raspberries and could have enjoyed blueberries also. I was under the impression that I didn't like blackberries and was originally just going to pick them to use them for dying fabric. But I tried one straight off the vine, and was quickly hooked! The taste is something like a grape, but sweeter, with some little seeds and more fun. Each berry is like a bundle of tiny balloons filled with deliciously sweet (and pretty purply coloured) juice!

For more photos: Berry Picking on Flickr!

23 July 2008

Shop mode

I haven't updated in a while. But that's not because nothing's been going on! There was the end of school (which is always a crazy, hectic time), the start of summer, my agreeing to work an extra 40 hours (plus a little more, as always seems to be the case) and Silver Lining inventory production! Way back in May, I'd made weekly schedules for myself, including 5 solid hours of production time, time for exercise, inspiration, design all that good stuff. But as summer actually began, I have not only lost the sheets of paper I drafted those optimistic plans on, but have also not even attempted to dedicate 5 hours/day to building inventory. All this will come back to bite me on Friday if I get into Crafty Bastards (they let us know on Friday!). But, on the bright side, I will still have a whole week to work like a crazy person before we go on vacation!

For your photo today, a cute one of our little Tuzi playing with a prototype lime green, linen bunny:

11 May 2008

Back into the world of technology!

So I definitely have not been keeping to my new year's resolution of blogging once a week. My new resolution is to start blogging weekly once school is out and I am officially working on Silver Lining.

Since I last updated, I have returned to the wonderful world of technology. I've finally traded my PC/IBM ways for a shiny, new Macbook Air. I have to say this is pretty much the coolest computer I've had yet. My past computers really didn't have anything particularly cool about them, though. Having my own computer (that can tag along everywhere with me!) is really opening my mind up to more crafty possibilities. This lean, green machine can run both Illustrator and Photoshop at the same time! With this new found power, I've started seriously looking into digital design classes (I even paid the $50 app. fee for GMU!). Plus, I'm learning all about this new OS and finding all kinds of cool ways to personalise my computer and make it really me. All this computer time has definitely pulled me away from sewing, but I'm hoping it'll come full circle. Now that I can have more than one Firefox window/tab open, I can search the way I like, with a million windows open and essentially dipping my fingers into loads of sites and blogs and whatnots.

Today being Mother's Day, I'm working on a little project for my grandma. I got the base cutting and sewing done and have spent the last 2.5 hours (yipes!) "researching" ways to finish it up. In my (clearly not very well focused) search, I came across a super cool blog widget:


15 January 2008

Our family grows!

On 4 January, our little family grew by one little fluffy bundle of fun. Meet Louis Kablouis the Lapin! He's a Dwarf Hotot rabbit, and is already as big as he's going to get. After lots of research, wanting, calling, wanting, emailing, wanting and waiting, we finally settled on this cute little guy.

He was surrendered to the Humane Society of Fairfax County only a few days before we came to pick him up. His previous family had kept him as their favourite and cherished pet, until it was discovered (or admitted) that someone was just too allergic. Apparently his previous dad was sobbing as he dropped him off with enough supplies to sustain him for at least a month. Melissa, the super nice lady at the Humane Society felt it was important to make sure he found the perfect forever family. I guess we were just right!

Originally, he was named Olee, but he seems more like a Louis to us. A few days after we got him, we noticed a pretty distinct change as he started getting puberty-ful. When we got him, we had to agree that we'd bring him back for his neutering appointment. After the tiny taste of his crazed "burrowing," nipping, circling and biting, we were more than glad to gave made that agreement!

Yesterday, was his appointment date, so I dropped him off with Melissa in the morning and picked him up at the vet in the afternoon. The vet people weren't terribly nice, and didn't seem to want to answer any questions really. But they did read my note about concern over what seemed to be a decent amount of fur loss and poops strung together. Turns out he has a parasite! EEsh! It's something that buns usually have, but he just has a lot of it, so we have to feed him medicine twice a day for 7 days. Today we just barely got by getting him the proper amount. I think we're going to end up having to go for 8 days just to be sure.

Today, 24 hours after his surgery, he's definitely more energetic. He still stretches out his back legs as though he feels stiff and licks his "wound" occasionally. He's eating more though, and is still using his litter box for peepee. A couple poopies didn't make it, but as they are strung together, I think it's not entirely his fault. I mean, he can't help it if he thinks he's going in the box, but they stay stuck to his butt. Right?