29 August 2010

Sad News

After a brief but painful illness, my dog was put to sleep on August 21st.
Buzz was only four and is dearly missed.
I've been doing alright, mostly due to my amazing friends who have kept me busy all week.  I can't imagine life without pets, I've rarely been without one, but some parts are really hard.

19 August 2010


I have been busy, busy, busy lately.

Mostly with good stuff:

...getting ready to teach a couple of new courses in the fall involves a lot of prep work, but I get to lead a seminar on a topic dear to my brain, so that's awesome!

...friends are throwing parties like there's no tomorrow and I cannot resist pools, BBQs, kayaks, blueberry picking, going to the theater, or even Karaoke.

...people are getting married and otherwise doing stuff that involves me planning trips to Nashville, Chicago, and Kansas City for September and October.

Oh, and remember this?
My lecture?

I gave it.
And I videotaped it.
And I will get the video online soon.

12 August 2010

lights, action, CAMERA!

Yep, it happened!  I got a new camera!
Thanks so much to everyone who ordered from the shop during the sale.  I couldn't have done it without you.  Between what I had saved and what I made on the sale, I could have replaced my Rebel XT with something comparable (the Rebel XS or XSi, they don't make the XT anymore).  But, I've been feeling the limits of the XT for a while now, and had been saving in part so that I could upgrade to something with a little more power.  Specifially: the.Canon EOS Rebel T1i.  I wanted video.  More auto-focus points.  The ability to use the LCD on the back as the viewfinder.  So, still no need for a professional SLR, but a little upgrade!
Being short a few hundred smackeroos, I was feeling angsty and indecisive over whether I could wait a few months to earn the cash for the upgrade or if I should just buy the replacement that I could already afford.  I was actually kind of suffering (so dramatic!) and then telling myself to stop being a spoiled brat about it (there are wars!  very bad diseases!  people are going hungry! stop whining about a stupid camera!) 

Thankfully, when I complained to a friend about my (a) camera predicament and (b) having to live with my own brattishness, she pointed out that since there was a $100 rebate that was going to expire on July 31 the only reasonable solution was to ask my parents to celebrate Christmas in July.  Honestly, I think the last time I asked my parents for money was in 1997 when I needed a refill on my campus cash for dormitory food.  Ha!  As it turns out, my dad was more than happy to buy me half-a-camera for Christmas, six months early.  Yay for dads!  I kind of went "full brat," what with asking my daddy for money, but I seem to have it out of my system now. I certainly hope so, I was insufferable.  Barf.

I haven't had much time to play with the new camera as yet, but I did pick up a UV filter for the lens that came in the kit (a UV filter protects the lens and the camera, I have one on each of my lenses).

I went an appliance shop in town that has photography gear only to discover that they eliminated that section a couple of years ago.  This meant that I had to hop one town west to get the filter.  Not a big deal except that the camera store in Dexter is one of my favorite places in the world and VERY DANGEROUS to my wallet.  They have bins and bins of used gear that I love digging through.
There is a $10 Polaroid land camera in this pile.  I kid you not.

I managed to resist the land camera and bought only this vintage Gossen Super Pilot light meter ($2) and the necessary filter ($19).   I don't know if the light meter works or not--I'll need to get a battery and try it out--but I figure it will make a super-sweet paperweight if nothing else.
Or I could pretend it is a truth-meter and point it at the unwary.
And then tell them, "f-stop lying!"

Thanks all for the compliments on the green shirt.  I made an upcycled version and it came out pretty well.
I will post an directions on how to do these sometime in the coming week.  But to answer some of your questions:  no, I do not have a serger, I just used a straight stitch on my regular sewing machine.  The first green shirt is made from fabric I got on sale from Jo-Ann's.  That fabric has quite a bit of spandex in it, so its clingy and has a weight to it.  The t-shirt above is made from 100% cotton, so it's a bit easier to wear, though I don't like the neckline quite as much with this fabric...something that might be fixable in the pattern, I'm going to see with the next one I make!

08 August 2010

green shirt

I'm rarely sew clothing and success when doing so is elusive, but a few weeks ago, when JCasa posted a free pattern for a boatneck shirt  I gave it a try.

I made a muslin (a practice shirt) and it was pretty easy to stitch up, but when I put on the muslin, it was totally unflattering. I just don't have the right body type for it. 

This is a picture from the pattern.
I think this model looks lovely, but looking at this picture now, I can see why this shirt wouldn't look good on me.  I have a long torso. My shoulders and hips are broad.  As such, putting a balloon of fabric from my shoulders to hips not only emphasizes the widest parts of my body, it hides the narrowest parts, and it points out my disproportionately long torso.

My mom, by the way, has a short torso, so she's about 1 inch shorter than me when we are standing at about 4 inches shorter than me when we are sitting.  It's hilarious.

Anyway, I must have filed away some of the information gained by trying to make the shirt, because a week later, I realized that I could probably accomplish something that would be flattering if I just changed a few things about the pattern. I decided to try and make a shirt that was halfway between JCasa's Undaunted pattern (pictured above)  and this store-bought black shirt which I've owned for a few years.

The key: buying some stretchy t-shirt fabric & relaxing the neckline.
The result was pretty great if I do say so myself!

This is the first one I made.  It's a bit too small around, making it obvious when I've had a big lunch (or, you know, a summer of big lunches).  Today, I'm going to see if I can find big t-shirts at Value World and then make some shirts that are a little bit looser and say funny stuff!

05 August 2010

I'm out of pins.

I decided to do a leaders-and-enders quilt with liberated plus/cross blocks.
I did a lot of cutting the other night resulting in a few trays like this sitting next to my sewing machine.

I use pins as markers as well at to hold sets together.  Each block has 10 pins in it in stage one.  Hence, no pins in the pin-cushion!

If you haven't seen the tutorial for liberated cross quilts at Lollyquiltz, you should check it out.
She made this stunning quilt using her method:
That is one of my favorite quilts that I've seen on flickr/the blogosphere all year!

The method I use for constructing the crosses is very similar to what Carla (Lollyquilts) recommends.

I got through a few of the leaders-and-enders as I made this block for the Common Threads quilt bee:
 Sarah asked for texture and pops of color.  I may have gone overboard on both counts, but I had fun!

I was going to buy some more pins today, but the quilt shop didn't have rainbow ones.  I need a variety of colors for my method (umm...it involves color-coding).  But, at the thrift store across the street, I found the prettiest pyrex in the world, so I went home happy.
Tomorrow, pins!

03 August 2010

sunshine + fabric

You know how they say you should store your fabrics and quilts out of the sunlight?  Well, let me provide a brief illustration of what happens when you expose your fabric to a whole lot of sunlight!

The closet in which I keep my clothes has a window.  A south-facing window (LOTS of intense light).

When I first moved into this apartment, I knew that I needed to put in a curtain to block the sun. I ended up using a bit of quilting fabric.

After five years, this is what the fabric looks like:
Buzz's paw is on the part of the fabric that hangs below the window, protected by the wall. The bleached out bit is from the sun! Can you believe it?  This is Michael Miller fabric, so this is not happening because the fabric is low in quality.  It's actually pretty fascinating what is bleached out and what remains.
The fabric feels the same in both portions.  I couldn't tear either part or cause the threads to separate or fray by scratching.  Who knows what the underlying issues might be, though.

Can you imagine if this fabric was part of a big stash that had been folded and stashed in a sunny place? 
That could be truly, epically bad!
If you have a sunny sewing room (I have a dim corner or an office!)  Get doors for your shelves or a cabinet or something.
Or you might end up making sad faces like Buzz Buzz Full of Fuzz!

02 August 2010

on the grill

I didn't get much time on the sewing machine this week.  If fact, I think the only things I made were a few bean bags to use as little tailor's hams.  Oh, and I needed them because I was cutting into this huge length of jersey to make a shirt.  A shirt which I have failed to take picture of, even though I've worn in three times this week. Despite being made using an existing shirt as a model, the new shirt is actually a bit small across my stomach.  I've been eating far too much food.  Delicious, grilled food.  I love the foods of summer.  And grilling just makes them all better.

Given that I don't eat most meats--and rarely eat the meats that I do eat--people are surprised at how often I grill.  But grill I do.  All summer long. Grilled veggies are just so delicious.  Amazingly wonderful.

I keep garlicky yogurt in the fridge.  It's a few cloves of garlic minced and stirred into plain yogurt, greek yogurt, or even sour cream.  It gets more potent (i.e. BETTER) as time wears on.  Yum.  I put garlicky yogurt on almost every vegetable I grill.  It adds a little bit of fat to the meal (which not only helps me to feel full, but is, I believe, good for vitamin absorption.)

Grilled eggplant is probably my favorite.  I just slice the eggplant about 3/4-inches thick, use a pastry brush to cover the slices in balsamic vinegar and olive oil and then stick them on the grill for about 5 minutes on each side, re-basting with the vinegar and oil before flipping.
 This is the eggplant before it went on the grill.  I usually take it off when it is ever-so-slightly burnt.  FYI: blackened vegetables are safe to eat, charred meat is carcinogenic.

My second favorite grilled food is pizza.

That's eggplant, green olives, provolone and parsley (not yet cooked).
You can find the recipe over here.

My good friend K came over to help me eat the pizza. He brought with him some vegetables that his mother had made. I've been begging K to introduce me to his mom since the first time I ate some of her food. I want her to teach me to make vegetables the way she makes vegetables.

On pizza night, K brought this rice/leeks/carrots thing that seriously blew my mind. I'm not sure that this, or any, picture can do this food justice. It tastes so freakin' good. And it is meant to be served cold, making it perfect for sack lunches. And it's healthy.  I could go on.

Anyway, since I've been asking for five years to be this lady's vegetable apprentice, and it hasn't happened, I finally broke down and researched some Turkish cookbooks.  I was surprised to find that Turkish food is often folded into either Mediterranean or Middle Eastern cookbooks and based on the reviews, I've requested this book for the library.

So, I'll be able to try some recipes out soon.  But if anyone has personal recommendations of cookbooks with delicious Turkish vegetable recipes, please let me know!