Sunday, December 21, 2008

Frames: The Good and the Bad



I took my pillows over to Urban Standard before I left for NC. Possibly after the holidays you'll be able to find some of my work there, but we'll see. Regardless, I picked up some awesome cupcakes, which it turns out are just as good if you drop the box and smoosh them.

Evan and I attended Robb's and Lydia's respective bachelor and bachelorette parties last weekend. Despite having one of the stranger nights I've had in a while, I had a lot of fun. The boys went to a strip club and the girls went to a drag show. I guarantee you that the ladies we saw were about ten times hotter than the ones they encountered. I <3 Miss Jericho.

Congratulations to Robb and Lydia whose wedding festivities we'll be attending this Saturday. Looking forward to seeing everyone after being away for a few days, and to hanging out with some folks who live out of town. Speaking of which, Matt and Charlie got an apartment nearby and will be moving in at the beginning of the month. Way to get things done.

I got my framed pieces back from Forstall, and though they did a good job with what I asked them for, I was predictably disappointed with the frame of the Self-portrait. Ampersands came out awesome, as expected. Win some, lose some and all that. And hey, you guys have not given me any advice on whether or not to go to Savannah for the opening of the show, so I'll give you some of the pros and cons I've thought of.

Pros: getting to see the exhibit, meeting fellow embroiderers, having a mini-vacation to a place I'm interested in visiting

Cons: long drive, Evan would have to take the afternoon off work, it's the Friday directly after classes start for the semester

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Observations, Part 2

Technology is conspiring to prevent me from ever posting another photo on this blog. The good news, though, is that Apple replaced my hard-drive and now she's back to running like a dream.

Red Mountain Family Band had a great practice earlier this week. I scored Evan some brushes for his drums and he tuned the kick, so everything sounds great. I'm really looking forward to playing on New Year's Eve. Hopefully we'll be able to get to work on some new songs now that the line-up has coalesced.

Matt arrived today and is staying with us on and off until he gets settled in Birmingham. All of Alabama's children are returning. Should be fun times around here.

I'm cranking on some hand-made gifts for the young folks in Evan's family, and trying not to get sucked into Eclipse, which I decided to buy and read, even though I skipped it initially. Oh, and through an annoying mistake I have an extra copy of Breaking Dawn if anyone wants it. If you don't know what I'm talking about, you should probably keep it that way.

I'm really digging on the idea of girlfriends these days. I've been having so much fun with all of the wonderful ladies of Birmingham and it really rocks. So, stay awesome, chicas.

Google Reader has got me stoked, too. Now that I've finally started sharing stuff, it's pretty fun. And it's sweet to see what other people are into, too.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Observations, Interesting or Otherwise

Most mornings I drive Evan to work, and I sometimes stop to get a coffee on the way home. This morning the parking meter for my spot outside of the coffee shop was out of order. Its way of telling me this was to flash the word "FAIL."

I went to my first Bottletree Music Trivia night last night, and despite being only minimally helpful, I was able to share in the collective glory of a team win. I only wish I weren't going to be out of town for the 90's theme next week, because I'm pretty sure I could own it.

Speaking of ownage, I aced my classes, as expected. Devon made it through, alright, too. Congratulations to both of us on passing first semester and may we rule it even harder in semesters to come.

Crafting is coming slowly and I now realize that my big plans for getting all sorts of things done over break are crashing and burning. But I'm having an excellent time, so it evens out. Slowly but surely I'm handling Christmas presents, some bought, some made. I wish I had more time to devote to showering my friends and family with gifts, but it's not in the cards this year.

Evan and I are trying to decide if we should go to Savannah for the opening of the Stitch Spectacular show on January 9th. Google said it's 6 hours and some, but I think I've heard 8 hours from other people. I've been wanting to visit Savannah for a while, and this seems like the perfect opportunity, but it's not great timing. Help me out with pros and cons. The age of technology has ushered in an inability to make decisions on my own.

When you feel something tickle the back of your neck and you reach up, only to discover that it actually is a bug and not some errant strand of hair, it'll make you really paranoid.

Friday, December 12, 2008

...and Done!

Woohoo! First semester is over. I won't get grades until tomorrow, but I'm positive I aced Buddhist art, and did fine in the other two as well. What a relief. I hit a snag right before exams, but I managed to make it through anyway. In a weak moment, I made the mistake of starting in on the Twilight series before exams were over. It was nearly impossible to pull myself away long enough to prepare for finals. I read three books in something like four days, and in my haste didn't realize that I had skipped the third book and gone directly to the fourth until I was almost done with it. The good news is that these books weren't nearly as awful as I was expecting. Sure, the subject matter and sentiment are a little embarrassing, but as a person who's read a lot of young adult fiction, I'd say it's par for the course and it could've been a lot worse. Regardless, it's been excellent post-semester decompression. No way was I jumping right back into War and Peace or Remembrance of Things Past.


I took my embroidery to be framed earlier this week. The guy at Forstall was very patient with my hour of debating over various frames, and the price for framing was pretty average. I'm not totally thrilled with the frame for the self-portrait. It's fine, but I couldn't find anything that made me think, "Perfect!" The ampersands, on the other hand, are going to look freaking amazing. I guess it's awesome that that's the one I'm keeping.

I'll be getting back to work (quilting, embroidering) this week, but I took the weekend off to relax. We had an awesome Rowe School Potluck Monstercards Sleepover on Friday night that lasted until about 2 am the next night. The game of Monstercards was substandard, not in content, but in actual play. Too many people, too little focus. I am at least 40% responsible for the ruination of the game. But we still had some good cards, and had fun, anyway. The whole thing was a bit overwhelming for late-comers, though, and for that I am sorry (really, Joy, I mean it!).

I'll have some photos soon of what I've been up to, and I'll be able to post more regularly for a little while, so stay tuned.

P.S. Oh, and just in time to be devastated by a loss, I fell in love with the Crimson Tide last weekend. Sigh. Liking sports hurts.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Good Times

So, I'm feeling pretty awesome right now. Aside from a few brief moments of stress, the last couple of weeks have been sweet. I threw a totally wikkid party for Evan's birthday and stayed up till dawn. We had a great Thanksgiving with Evan's family in Chicago, went bowling, and ate a ten-course kaiseki. Also I turned in a paper and got a presentation and an oral exam out of the way, so I'm mostly done for the semester. Oh, and I almost forgot, Red Wagon in Homewood is now carrying my quilts.


Today is especially great, though, because of two things. First, I gave Evan an early Christmas present, which made me very happy. He is now the proud owner of a set of beautiful blue Tama drums. I snapped a photo but it won't upload, so I'll show them to you later. Second, I just found out that my self-portrait got into the Stitch Spectacular show!! It opens on January 9th in Savannah, so I have a month to get it ready to hang.

Can't wait to do some holiday decorating and work on some projects I've had to put on hold. Hooray for winter break!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Birthday Dinner

Being Evan's birthday and all we went to Bottega last night for dinner. We had been once before in late spring/early summer and I was somewhat underwhelmed. I had some kind of seafood risotto which, though good, was not really interesting enough to warrant the price. But last night's food made up for it. I had a parmesan soufflé with mushrooms and prosciutto for an appetizer. Delish, but really rich, so I'm glad it was little. My entrée was halibut with citrus and pistachio on olive oil crushed potatoes. Awesome. Seriously. Evan had some kind of braised beef stew appetizer and a beef tenderloin entrée (also very tasty). Unfortunately I spent my entire food budget for pretty much the rest of forever and will be living off canned soup for the foreseeable future. Try not to hold it against me if I start smelling like beef and barley, ok?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Procrastination


Have I ever mentioned that K-Fed reminds me of my step-dad? Sorta trashy, knocked up some rich lady who turned out to be a lunatic. They're practically the same person. I'm reminded of this fact because I've gone back to reading The Superficial. I stopped for a while when I realized I was only indulging the qualities in myself that I don't like (like being negative and judgmental). And anyway, LiLo hasn't done anything awesome in ages. So, I haven't changed my position on the subject, but I do have a lot of homework that I'm avoiding and I'm running out of ways to avoid it.


Speaking of which, I made these apple zucchini muffins just now. I used this recipe, substituting a muffin tin for a loaf pan, and reducing the baking time to 45 minutes. (In case you're wondering, I used one large zucchini and one granny smith apple.) They taste sort of like mild carrot cake? Anyway, it's part of my effort to eat more vegetables. I was pretty good about it back when I had time to cook, but my diet has gotten a lot worse these days. As part of the same effort I roasted some beets the other day. I ate them cut into chunks with poppyseed dressing and goat cheese. A pretty awesome way to consume beets, but I think it turned my pee pink. 

Oh, and one of my pillows was on the Etsy front page today! Yay!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Deadlines



I've been putting off tons of schoolwork to finish a couple of pieces to submit to the Stitch Spectacular art show in Savannah. The criteria for submissions was that the work be an original design (i.e. not from a commercially available pattern) and the main feature of the piece be embroidery. I've been working on a couple of pieces of embroidery that aren't meant to be functional (like the pillows I do for Napoleon) but I didn't think they were up to par. So I did a couple of brand new pieces that are pretty different than what I'd been working on. I doubt they'll get into the show, but it was a nice exercise.


Anyhow, the deadline was midnight on Friday, so I'd been stitching away, ignoring all sorts of other work. Now that that's done, it's time to catch up. I have two term papers to work on, one of which I haven't even picked a topic for and neither of which have been researched. I've been dreading this all semester, pretending that I was going to get an early start, not put things off like I did in college. I'm not yet in dire straits, but I can't continue to procrastinate. And if I just go ahead and do it I'll feel so much better (a fact of which I'm always aware, but consistently ignore).

Before initiating full-time schoolwork mode, I had one last hurrah shopping in Atlanta yesterday. Yes, going to Atlanta to shop is kind of ridiculous, but Evan needed work clothes and H&M and Zara are practically the only stores with clothes that fit him. We shopped to the point of exhaustion but were pretty successful in our mission. I almost find shopping for other people more satisfying than shopping for myself. I still get to be stoked when I find something amazing but without all the guilt of frivolous spending.

So, goodbye for now. If you don't hear from me for a while, blame Bernini's Papal tombs. I'll be back as soon as possible.

Monday, October 20, 2008

So-called "Lite" Avocados: A Review

Perhaps you have seen them sitting in the produce section, looking like an exaggerated avocado that will never ripen. But ripen they do, which is how I found myself eating one of these low-fat versions of my delicious, (good-)fat-filled friend. 


As you have probably noticed, it is next to impossible to find a perfectly ripe avocado at the supermarket, even at peak season, unless you live in California. Faced with an urgent need for immediate avocado satisfaction I selected the ripest Hass there was and, as back-up, a ripe Lite. The Hass proved sufficient for our needs, but I still had this other monstrosity on my hands. I decided to try it out on top of a quesadilla.

First off, these things are huge. Twice the size of the sad little avocados we get in these parts. As soon as you cut into it, though, you realize that half the volume is pit, itself 100% larger than that of a Hass. Otherwise, it's business as usual. Light green flesh, getting slightly darker toward the edges. So I sliced it four or five times lengthwise and proceeded to scoop it out of the skin with a spoon per usual. It was then that I noticed the first signs of the big difference. The slices...break? Oh well, onto the plate they go with some salt on top.

The taste and texture (mouthfeel, for those of you who get a kick out of that ridiculous word) are close to what you would come up with if you imagined an avocado with less fat. It's still got that firm-until-you-smoosh-it-but-then-kind-of-buttery texture, but with less buttery-ness. In fact, it's slightly watery where a Hass is creamy. And like the low-fat version of any food, it's less delicious. The good news, though, is that it's close enough as long as you're not going to eat it straight. In other words, don't make guacamole out of this thing, but it's fine to put a couple of slices inside a burrito. It'll cool things down if, like residents of The Rowe School, you douse everything that comes in a tortilla with Cholula. B–.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

For Sale!!!


I'm excited to announce that you can now find Napoleon quilts at fawn&forest! fawn&forest is a stylin' online retailer of all things for modern- and eco-tots. For a sampling of their wares, check out the forest finds section. Rather than expound on the fab designers and products on the site, I'll let you check it out yourselves. (Have fun!)


I'm looking forward to moving some quilts so that I can get to work on my next round. I've been getting some really awesome fabric into the studio and can't wait to show it off. I've also got a couple of embroidery projects in the works, and am patiently awaiting the delivery of some felt so that I can make the most adorable bunnies in the world from this pattern that I won over at Wee Wonderfuls. I may go into a fit immediately upon completion from an inability to handle their inherent cuteness. I think it's worth the risk.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

J'aime le Cinéma

My new obsession is the actor Tadanobu Asano. You may know him from Ichi the Killer. I loved him as the star of Sharkskin Man and Peachhip Girl when I saw it several years ago. This week while Evan was away, I watched The Taste of Tea written and directed by the same guy as SMPG. Tadanobu Asano has a part in this ensemble movie as well, and he's great. So I just did a quick Netflix search and added several of Asano's movies to my queue. Unfortunately, the release date for Tokyo Zombie is unknown, but it sounds freaking rad.


And while we're on the topic of movies, Evan and I saw three last Saturday at the Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival (I could live with a shorter name for the event...Sidewalk Film Fest, anyone?). The first, Rock-afire Explosion, is a documentary about the animatronic band of the same name from Showbiz Pizza, and its enduring importance in the lives of some fans. The folks in the film were really endearing, and it made the movie.

The last thing we saw was something called Pop Skull. It was visually and aurally jarring and made me grumpy. A wanktastic exercise in filmmaking. 

My favorite was the second film we saw. Let the Right One In is a Swedish (?) movie about two pre-teens and their relationship. Throw in some gore and you've got a pretty wikkid movie. A+. According to Kyle, J.J. "Countless Wasted Hours of Your Life" Abrams is remaking this one for Hollywood. You should do your best to see the Swedish version before it gets ruinated.

** Update: Apparently I was mistaken about the J.J. Abrams thing. Kyle actually said that theother guy responsible for Cloverfield was remaking Let the Right One In. Either way, though, right?

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Color Collecting!!!


Check out our new site!! Color Collecting is a gallery of photos as color studies. The site was conceived by Maggie of oatmealbynoon.org and whalesandbunnies.com and executed by James, who was also responsible for the Napoleon site. I now owe him my first born. Anyway, you can learn all about the many fascinating contributers by checking out the bios. Enjoy!

Monday, September 22, 2008

So Tired

I have nothing of import to say. If I did, I probably would not be able to stay awake long enough to say it. I'm still constantly exhausted, head-achey, and craving sugar. A visit to the doctor yielded some useless muscle relaxers, the idea being that the headaches might be due to tense neck and shoulder muscles. The fatigue he blamed on my thalassemia (a kind of genetic anemia specific to people of Mediterranean descent.) I'm going to have to make another appointment because as it stands, air is soporific. I've been slamming coffee and Advil like a Wall St. floor trader circa 1986.


I ventured out last week with Evan to see Wreckless Eric and Amy Rigby play at The Nick. There were about 8 other people there, which I suppose was sort of sad for them, but it turned out great for us, since they had the latitude to jam and make jokes about the poor attendance.

The rest of the time I've been quilting and studying, of course, but also trying to speed up my freaking computer (which is bogged down with so many gigs of crap that it moves at a snail's pace) and watching a sweet anime series called The 12 Kingdoms with Evan. I highly recommend sending back the 3rd season of Weeds that you just got from Netflix and getting this instead. Deep down you know you hate that show, anyway.

In closing, a list of things I have recently been excited/happy about:
• naps
• coffee
• finding out that command + ; makes an ellipsis
• describing something as having been "edited like a ham sandwich," which I meant to mean that it had been done poorly or awkwardly

Thursday, September 18, 2008

What?

I got an e-mail this morning from Lesley Taylor at WHAT letting me know that she's included my Six-Shooter pillow in her Fall 2008 Design Guide. WHAT focuses on "independent designers who work in a contemporary/modern style." All of the awesome designs on the site are either available for purchase through WHAT or have a link to the designer's site for more info. So what are you doing still reading this?! Go check out some rad design!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Pain

I finally got in gear and started yoga at Yoga Circle this week. I took a hot class (96˚ or so) on Wed. and a hatha class yesterday. The hot class almost made me pass out. I haven't done one since C. Love's classes in San Francisco, and I forgot how sweaty it is. The hatha class was great, but I'm definitely feeling it all over today. Usually there are a lot of beginners in hatha classes, while other people move on to vinyasa, and I've never really understood why. Maybe I've been extra slow getting out of the beginner stage, but I still find it really challenging and helpful. I've always hated cardio, though, which may be why vinyasa doesn't appeal to me very much.

Aside from being sore, I'm having a slew of other aches and pains. My shoulders and neck are so tense that I've been getting mild but consistent headaches for about two weeks now. I'm getting myself checked out on Monday, because I've also been incredibly tired no matter how much sleep I get. Stress? The slow downward spiral of aging? Brain cloud? We shall see.

In better news, I've gotten some work done over the last couple of weeks. Finished six new pillows, which I'm photographing and putting on Etsy sometime today. I've also (guiltily) cut most of the pieces for a pieced quilt for myself. Can you believe I've only made myself one quilt ever? And the black and red with skulls and spiderwebs thing doesn't really suit me anymore. So I'm doing a turquoise and white pinwheel quilt after seeing this amazing quilt on Etsy. I love the orange and white, but it wouldn't have matched much in the house.

I never updated you on the Brother sewing machine I got, so I'll give it to you briefly. Terrible. F. I had to send it back. The plate over the bobbin just slides off if you even breath on it. So I'm ordering a relatively cheap Janome (3022), which I hope will give me less trouble. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

Theresa and I got up early this morning and hit a little estate/yard sale. Got a couple of sweet things, including a small bust of Robert E. Lee, and a tin of old sewing supplies. Oh! and I won a pattern card for the most adorable sew-by-hand stuffed rabbit from Wee Wonderfuls. Cutest thing ever. Seriously. Kind of makes up for the headaches and the rest.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Brilliant Smile


Gifts from my family tend to be hit or miss. I suspect this is true for most people. For every couple of awesome books, or dvds directly from your Amazon wishlist, there's also a crocheted vest or a Captain and Tennille record. That is why recently, when my aunt handed me a box and said, "I don't know what you're going to think of this. It's very strange," I was concerned. Luckily, there was an awesome Margaux Lange necklace inside. I immediately loved it. Anne bought it at the Baltimore craft fair, I think, but a quick search brought me to Ms. Lange's Etsy shop, where she's got other great Barbie-related jewelry. You may be wondering what you would wear a necklace like this with, but I assure you that opportunities abound. I mostly love pairing it with something conservative. The red lips catch your eye, but the pearls tone it down. Looks awesome, and gets a better kind of attention than that light up sweatshirt you got for your last birthday.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Seven Songs.

That's how many I decided could reasonably be included on a blog-embedded playlist. I doubt any of you will actually listen to the entire thing. Actually, I'd appreciate it if you could tell me how far you listened so I can get a read on the attention spans of the folks who read this. I'll probably have more of these in the future.

The theme of this playlist is something to like "summer is finally over." When you are no longer a student, summer really loses its charm. Fall is much more pleasant, and you can start dressing nicely and watching Alabama football. Seeing them crush Clemson on saturday was the best feeling since finding out I'm not pregnant.

Equinox.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Storque


For those of you who don't spend a lot of time on Etsy, The Storque is Etsy's blog. They have lots of different kinds of stories, some on a theme, particular artists, or just cool finds on the site. I noticed one of my items got a lot of hearts today, so I check The Storque and sure enough, may Napoleon banner pillow is shown in an article on bedding. So check it, homies!

p.s. Is anyone interested in seeing any of the following bands with me at Bottletree: Sunset Rubdown, American Steel, or Crooked Fingers?

Friday, August 29, 2008

Supertasting Does Not Taste Super

Ugh! Egads! That was so gross! Okay, it's not as bad as eating a vomit flavored jelly bean, but these strips of paper are nasty. They taste like powdered aspirin, or xanax swallowed too slowly... IF you're a supertaster, that is. Which, apparently, both Evan and I are.

Ever since I exceeded expectations in Erin's "Identify Skittle Colors by Taste" Test, I've not-so-secretly hoped that I was a supertaster. As soon as Evan found out that he could use supertasting as an excuse for hating vegetables, he's been hoping he's one as well. After trying and failing to properly execute a supertaster test involving blue food coloring and wax paper last week, Evan went ahead and ordered these strips. The subject puts a strip into his/her mouth for ten seconds. According to the instructions, a non-taster will taste nothing, a taster will taste a mildly bitter/bland flavor, and a supertaster will taste something very bitter. Both of our reactions were so strong that we immediately spit out the paper and slammed some water.

It seems unlikely that we would both turn out to be supertasters, but until we have better evidence that the tests are faulty, we're going to assume that they're not. We will also assume that being a supertaster makes one superior. And that our superiority qualifies us for something besides an aversion to vegetables, grapefruit juice, and dark chocolate, like a man-servant or possibly a silver plaque of some kind.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Fabric Envy

Any of you who have hung out with me around fabric ordering time have heard me complain about how difficult it is. When you're picking things out online from a tiny swatch it's hard to tell what color it will really be, how it will match other fabrics, etc.

I've been noticing another problem recently, too. I subscribe to True Up which is a great blog dedicated to fabric. Writer Kim Kight posts pics of fabrics on a weekly theme, as well as new fabrics of note, sales, etc. I find that when Kim posts a collection that I've already looked at on the manufacturer's site, I often notice a print that I didn't before and kick myself for not considering it. This is especially true of smaller prints. I think it says something about the design of some manufacturers' sites. I want bigger images when I browse, and I want collections to be better organized.

My other fabric-related problem today is that Moda is sold out of two (two!) of the fabrics I ordered. I had to throw in three or four bolts of stuff I didn't know what to do with to meet the minimum order. But it couldn't be those that were sold out. It had to be fabrics I had specific plans for. Sigh.
In much much better news, I've been accepted to Trunkt which is a juried collection of online portfolios for "creative entrepreneurs" (read: artists, designers, craftspeople). Buyers, wholesale and individual, can browse the portfolios, which will then direct them to the artists online shop. The shop can be the artist's personal website, Etsy shop, or wherever they do business online. Because the site is juried, it ends up being a lot more professional than Etsy, in terms of photos and products. As much as I love Etsy, there's a lot of crap on there. The front page is always beautiful, but once you start browsing, there's no telling what you'll find.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

What a Mess

This is what my work table looks like right now. I'm alternating between quilting this giant project during the day and embroidering at night. Happy to be doing both, though, especially since they're coming out well.

The new sewing machine came, but between school, work, and outside projects like the Cigar Box website, I haven't even had a chance to test it out.

I've also been spending a lot of time trying to promote my Etsy shop. I originally intended it as a sort of back-up or a place to sell one-offs, and that's still the plan. But any kind of promotion or site traffic is good, so there's no need to treat it like a red-headed step-child. And hey, if any of you guys who know my work ever have brilliant PR ideas, send them my way. I'm pretty sure you don't have anything better to do.

Thinking about a game of Monstercards next Wed. Anyone up for it?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Hot Tea

Have I ever mentioned that I drink a lot of tea? Like, a lot. Evan and I drink a pot of PG Tips (which I go all the way to Whole Foods to get) every morning, and then I often drink another half a pot afterr fir thet one is done. Anyway, because I can't drink tea around the quilts, my tea often gets cold and then I have to microwave it and then that usually gets cold, too, and I have to dump it out. No more! Evan got me the cutest vacuum flask (a.k.a. Thermos) ever! I'm already trying to figure out if it will be weird to take it to class in the winter.

Speaking of which, I start school today. First up, French 101 and Southern Baroque. I'm feeling a combination of excitement and dread inspired by laziness. I'm going to assume that's typical.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Updates of Machines

Today I received in the mail an update to my camera situation. That is, I bought a new one. Hence the pictures. I am both relieved to not be using the ancient back-up camera anymore, and sad that I had to spend the cash.

Next week I will take delivery of an update to my sewing machine. The current one is a very basic, non-computerized White purchased during sophomore year of college for less than $100. I've been working on a commission this last week, and I realized in the process that my machine just wasn't going to cut it anymore. I need something that doesn't make me pull my hair out. I wanted something computerized, but still can't afford more than a proletarian brand, so I decided on the Brother CS6000I. It's a 60-stitch machine with automatic one-step buttonholes, speed adjustment, and the all-important choice of auto-stopping with the needle either up or down, depending on your preference. I've been coveting that feature ever since I borrowed a machine that had it, probably sometime very shortly after buying my poor little mechanical White. The Brother has mostly good, but a few worryingly bad reviews on Amazon, so I'll have to wait till I get it to tell you if it'll be an improvement.









Here's a sneak peek at the commission-in-progress. The front and back are both pieced and are ready to be quilted. Evan and I both really like it and will be sad to see it go. It makes me want to find some time to make something for myself. It's pretty unlikely that will happen anytime soon, though, especially as I'm starting school on Tuesday. I'll still be doing my work for Napoleon as well, which will leave a lot less time for cooking, cleaning, and extra-curricular quilting. Besides, I find that I'm unable to stop embroidering in my free time. I'm thinking of doing a whole series of embroidered variations on the theme of butterpants.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The body politik.

I'm supposed to be educating you all on random walks and logic trees, but unfortunately I haven't been able to find the perfect Batman script to do it with (or any Batman script, for that matter). That sentence could be a bit confusing without the proper context, but since my critics want me to be a little less Mo and a little more PoMo, I think I'll keep it that way. Anyway, for those of you interested in discussing the wonders of probability theory--and American history--we'll be taking a trip next Saturday to the Alabama Theatre for a screening of National Treasure. Question and answer period to follow. Boozing period to follow question and answer period.

Other things of unnote:

> Recycling used to be a chore that I really enjoyed. On a Sunday morning, I would take my time flattening all the cardboard and putting all the bottles and cans in the car. I would drive down to the center with the windows down listening to one of the old hippie Tyrannosaurus Rex albums (Beard of Stars is my favorite), unload all the junk (someone's treasure) into giant bins and hang out with the homeless men who operate the place for a little while. Unfortunately, post-party recycling is not so pleasant. It's as if someone filled a kiddie pool with about an inch of beer traversed by little cockroach boats, let it sit in the sun for about nine hours, then dipped washcloths in it and started slapping me all over my body with them. Plus, some hippie guy replaced my friends at the center. I guess it's good that he probably won't constantly ask me for money, but I'd give the other guys twice what they wanted to not have to see granodouche in his cargo shorts again.

> My band, The Beaux Animaux, will be playing at the Cigar Box event at Bottletree on August 31st. If you come, you can not only hear some awesome music, but you can sign a petition because

> I'm going to run for mayor!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

What Is That? Velvet?

I am a cupcake master! With the help of James (who made the icing), Erin and Matt (who filled the tins), and Kristen and Kate (who helped decorate) I (we) made one trillion (read: 87) red velvet cupcakes for the wedding. They came out pretty freaking adorable and delicious. I've been doing things by sheer elbow grease at home, but thankfully I had a hand-mixer in this case. Every time I think about buying one I decide that I don't really need it, but now I know the truth. I will be making the $15 investment immediately upon my return to Alabama.

Erin and Matt's wedding yesterday afternoon was a real tear-jerker. I pretty much broke down immediately upon seeing Erin in her dress and then cried at regular intervals until the end of the reception. The whole thing was very sweet and everyone looked dashing. This morning we have a final get-together and then I begin the long trek home. See you back in Birmingham.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Blue Ribbon

In order to wash the terrible memory of Jinsei from my mind, I had sushi last night for dinner. Ramani took me out to Blue Ribbon Sushi, in the Six Columbus hotel. It's one of the top-rated sushi spots in New York, but never had a chance to try it when I lived here. I had a truly amazing (seriously) sashimi platter, a few bites of Ramani's Blue Ribbon fried chicken (?!), and awesome bread pudding. I also have to mention that I stopped into the ladies' room, located in the hotel, and I felt like I was being eaten by the future. Bad, scary, but without being post-apocalyptic future. The walls of the hallway were completely upholstered in chocolate brown cow hide. Not leather. Cow hide. With hair. Hair (fur?) walls. And blue, hurts-your-eyes futurelights.
And now I promise not tobring up sushi again.

Nothing of note has happened since I arrived. After flight cancellations, a night in Charlotte, and many hours in the airport, I finally made it to New York on Monday. I did a little shopping yesterday, and had an afternoon appointment with a kids' store in Williamsburg. It went...okay. I did find that I had plenty to say about my work, though, and I think I sounded much more professional than I feel. Even though I remind myself that everyone starts somewhere, and that there are a lot of independent creators and designers in the same boat, it's hard not to feel like you're a kid playing at being a grown-up.

I got to see Steven and Cathy for a bit yesterday evening. I'm glad I caught them before they moved. There are a couple of other friends to catch up with today and quilting stores to visit. Tomorrow afternoon we're headed to W. Virginia. I won't be terribly sad to leave. Birmingham has gotten me used to privacy again and I miss it.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Jinsei Review Part II

For those of you dying to know, Jinsei can be found in SoHo, a block and a half of overpriced shops and restaurants in--to spit in the face of acronymologists everywhere--North Homewood. Parking is located off 29th Avenue South, right between the white BMW and the white Lexus with two carseats and the mysterious and confusing "my other mom is a broom" bumper sticker.

A moment before exiting Jinsei you enter it. It is at this time that you are bombarded with a loud, fresh dose of jungly drum and bass; it's like walking into the climax of Step Up 2: The Streets, but profession dancers have been replaced by pot-bellied men in khaki pants and tweenage girls. The interior consists of slate-black everything with a hint of shininess: their idea of what a fancy big-city restaurant is supposed to look like is about as accurate as Fievel's predictions about America.

So you decide to sit outside in the 100-degree heat, only to learn that these inescapable bastards have placed speakers on the patio as well, ensuring that you get served while you wait to get served. You order sake because if you don't get a buzz soon you're going to walk across the street to Tots, Twigs, and Titters and buy youself a cottage made out of cinnamon sticks to try and choke yourself to death with. Meanwhile you browse the menu, which is nothing but rolls named after what I guess are snowboarding tricks: volcano 960, hammerhead toothgrind, spicy fandango. Everything seems to contain tempura-fried shellfish, which tells me that they're pandering to the Captain D's denial of Birmingham's upper-middle class.

Right before you go into shock your food arrives. You are underwhelmed, and some quick mental math tells you you're spending about $8 per bite. You eat the food in about three minutes, discuss your disappointment while waiting for the check, pay, run to your car, drive it to the gas station, buy some beer and beef jerky and have yourself a night.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Jinsei Review Pt. 1: Michela's Opinion

Remind me not to trust so-called foodie blogs in Birmingham. This is the second time we've been been unforgivably deceived (the first time being Gianmarco's which I will perhaps review some other time).

We showed up at Jinsei, a sushi place in Homewood, a little after 7pm last Wednesday. There were some people there, but it wasn't full yet. The inside space is small–a bar and probably 10 tables or so. They've obviously put a lot of thought into the decor; sadly for them, that thought led them horribly astray. The interior looks like what someone who's never been to New York thinks a New York restaurant is like. It might not have been so terrible except for the techno playing at a volume that made all enjoyment of life impossible. Thank god they had outdoor seating.

The prices were about what you would expect of a nicer-than-everyday sushi place in a bigger city. We ordered conservatively to test the waters. Evan and I started with a carafe of the house sake ($26). Their sakes are served cold, which is how I like it. Unfortunately, by "cold" they meant barely chilled and left on your table to get even warmer.

The miso soup was about three times the size of what is typically served at a Japanese restaurant. It was loaded with fresh straw and shitake mushrooms, but otherwise was standard. Almost every roll on the menu had something tempura-fried in it, a cheap move and not very interesting. First we picked a roll with tempura shrimp inside and avocado and eel outside ($15). It was good (tempura and unagi sauce can't go wrong), but far short of what I would expect for the price. The spicy tuna roll ($8 or $9) was run of the mill.

At three exorbitant dollars per piece we ordered from the sashimi and nigiri menu. The Jinsei chef got something right in using only a small amount of rice for the nigiri. This failed to make up for the so-so quality tuna. But excessive amounts of sauce made the unagi nigiri impossible to hate.

The short of it: For the price, I expected excellence or at least creativity. What we got was an uninspired menu, average quality fish, and oppressive atmosphere. In the end we choked back our room-temperature sake and decided to fill up on gas station gummi worms. At least they know their place.

Free Wireless

I'm sitting in the Charlotte International Airport, wishing that I could find some kind of souvenir with the words "Raise Up" on it. Not that this was actually a reasonable possibility, but that's what wishing is about. Despite their lack of Petey Pablo-inspired memorabilia, I say, "Here's to you Charlotte, North Carolina, for not being one of those dick airports (like LaGuardia) that charges for wireless."

I have completely failed to get any appointments with buyers, so this trip has become little more than an expensive vacation. I have gotten some encouraging feedback, though, which I'll tell you about if it turns into anything. Also, I've added some things to my Etsy shop, so give it another look.

Since I've got nothing else to do while in NY, I plan on finding some sneakers, shopping in stores we don't have in Alabama, and catching up with friends. Because it's New York, I will probably also spend some time worrying about my weight and/or clothes, and coveting things (housewares, bags, jewelry, etc) that I can't have and won't care about at all the second I leave the city. On Thursday night Richard, Kate, and I will head to W. Virginia for Erin's wedding where I will lament the state of my life, drink too much, and engage in various forms of merry-making.

When I return, it'll almost be time for classes. I was approved for in-state tuition, which is pretty awesome. I've picked out my classes and...oh! I should be registering for them right now. Whoops!

***Update: Flights cancelled, lives ruined. The weather in the Northeast has created a nightmare here. I'm stuck in Charlotte till tomorrow.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Stress Means an Empty Fridge

I'm stressing big time about all of the things I need to do before my trip to NY. I leave on the 27th and I still haven't contacted buyers. I had a few last things to get together and didn't want to be unprepared when I called. Today has been all about making an order form, invoice, and line sheet. A line sheet is a quick reference for buyers, with photos or drawings of what you're selling along with item numbers and prices. This has also meant finalizing all my terms and conditions, like shipping methods, return policies, etc.

Before I left New York I happened upon the book Craft, Inc. by Meg Mateo Ilasco. It's been enormously helpful with this sort of thing, i.e. making sure you know all the things you need to have in order, from business licenses to minimum order requirements, when turning your craft into a business. I've also been reading The Boss of You by Emira Mears and Lauren Bacon. It's for women starting their own business, and while I don't particularly care for the girlpower tone of the book, it's a good resource. The books compliment each other well, the former having a lot of nuts and bolts info and the latter dealing more with branding, marketing, and PR.

Because I've been doing so much work and also because I'm going to be doing a lot of cooking this weekend, I've totally avoided going to the grocery store and have been trying to make simple things from what I've already got. The tuna and white bean salad I made last night required no fresh ingredients, and it turned out really well. We had it as an open-face sandwich, but the leftovers I ate for lunch were just on a bed of field greens. These measurements are just a guess. There's no need to be precise.

White Bean and Tuna Salad

2 small packages or cans of tuna, drained
1 can white butterbeans or other white beans, drained
2 tsp capers
1 tsp red wine vinegar (or lemon juice)
1/2 T olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Mix ingredients and serve on field greens or toast.
Night before last I made a crustless broccoli and cheddar quiche. It was a little too brown on top, but it tasted fine and most importantly it was really easy. Evan hates vegetables, so I precooked the broccoli and then pureed it so as to render it inoffensive. You could easily just pour this into a premade pie shell, too, if that's your deal. The recipe I used was something like this:
Broccoli and Cheddar Crustless Quiche

1 small head broccoli
8 oz shredded cheddar
3 eggs
2 cups milk, cream, half and half or some combo
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground pepper
green onions or chives
butter for greasing

Preheat oven to 475˚ Chop broccoli and microwave (about 3-5 minutes depending on size and ammount). Squeeze in a paper towel to remove excess water. Puree broccoli with eggs. Combine all ingredients and pour into a greased pie dish. Sprinkle green onions on top. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until center is set.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Website!

Hey, everybody, check out my website! It's done! Hell yeah! One million thanks to J. Fishwick for building the site and to Stephanie for design help, even though she doesn't know me. And Thank you, Evan, for writing the copy. Also, above are the business cards I had printed recently, for which I owe Rick a debt of gratitude.

In other news, I'm starting the UAB masters program in art history next month.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Denial

I haven't written because I've been in denial. For the fourth, the Rowe School had a barbecue. Dr. Jason and Evan grilled an amazing leg of lamb; Adam commissioned some Banana Bread Bacon Burgers, or Quad Bs; Laura brought awesome ribs; Rodney mashed up a batch of guac; Jessica made black bean salsa; I handled dessert. I didn't mean to go overboard, but I did. Grilled peaches, triple berry clafoutis, and two types of popsicles (cucumber-mint-chili and lemon-basil). I ate more than any person should consume and drank to excess. A wonderful time was had by all and I've got the pictures to prove it. Or I did, before I realized that my camera went missing. I've been hoping it would turn up and I would be able to show you all the amazing food and drunken hugs, but alas, I think it's been stolen. Some skater kids from down the street crashed the party for a moment and I fear that when they left, they took my camera with them. I suppose there's still a chance that one day it will turn up, having been stashed in too secret a hiding place. But I think it's best if I assume it's gone forever.

The loss of my camera also means that I can't show you what I've been working on. I've embroidered four new pillow fronts that I'm pretty happy with. I also took apart the koi quilt I've been working on for the last two years so that I could replace the batting and start the quilting again. I spent a long time embroidering the quilt top, and I'm in love with the backing fabric, but the batting I was originally using was cheap and had too high a loft. It was driving me crazy. I got pretty damn far into the hand-quilting, so it was a bummer to destroy all that hard work, not to mention a pain in the ass. But I knew if I finished it the way it was that I'd never be happy with it. Now the new batting is in, the basting is done, and I've sketched out the pattern for quilting. I also took some time last week to set up an Etsy shop (for all of the things I won't be trying to sell through stores, like one-off quilts or embroidery).

There are still so many things to work on. It's mostly the fun kind of work, but when I run across some other quilter's blog, I'm floored by how much quilting she seems to get done, and feel a bit pathetic myself. Plus the work is so beautiful it makes me wonder why I do my work by hand. Of course the piecing and the machine stitching drives me crazy, but I'm awfully jealous of the results sometimes. Alas. Here's my todo list:
• repair quilt for Evan G.
• finalize design and find fabric for commission
• finish David's album art layout
• scan more Monstercards
• design fabric for Spoonflower
• plan a murder mystery
• quilt koi
• figure out who the final cylon is
• make a needlebook (there's a reason this is at the end of the list, but I want one so badly!!!)

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Monster Cards Explained


Okay, Adam and I have finally gotten somewhere with the Monster Cards blog (follow this link). The rules and one game's worth of cards are up. More cards to come, as soon as they're scanned. Check the links in the side bar for specific artists, games, etc.

Warning: At least one card, but possible all of them, will offend you. If you are related to me you should probably avoid looking at the site. For those of you who want to know what this Monster Cards business I've been on about is, without actually having to be shocked and disgusted, here are the abbreviated rules:

After the number of players for a game is determined, the scorekeeper decides on a number of cards. Each player retires to draw this number of Monster Cards. The cards can be actual monsters, monstrous events, or monstrous situations (see past Monster Cards for examples). When the allotted time is up and each player has drawn his or her cards, the scorekeeper selects who will battle, one pair at a time. Players keep three random cards from their deck in hand at all times and can play any of these three cards. After the cards are played, the scorekeeper calls for a vote. All players and spectators not currently battling must vote. The winning card moves on to the next battle, after which it is retired regardless of the outcome of the battle. The player who wins the most battles, wins the war. For extended rules, please see the link in the sidebar.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Missteps

I photographed my quilts last week. Things were not as easy as I was expecting. First I had to build some very low-tech light stands out of 2x4s and shelf brackets. I've had the materials for weeks, but only just got down to putting these together. Then I clipped on cheap reflector lights and screwed in some very expensive daylight bulbs. I threw together a backdrop by cutting a black bed sheet to size and sewing a rod pocket on top and bottom. Each pocket got a curtain rod. The top rod slides into to screw hooks mounted into the wall in the hallway. The bottom rod is for weight to keep the sheet flat. This is where the stupidity begins. I pinned the first quilt to the backdrop, positioned my lights, and set up my tripod. Then my camera battery ran out. After recharging, I tried again. I took the first few photos and realized that 1) the lights weren't evenly flooding the quilt, and 2) photographing a whole-cloth quilt this way, unless you're trying to show of some really amazing stitching, is really stupid.

Plan B was to take photos of the quilts on my work table, a nice white surface. I set up my lights and got to shooting. As you can see from the thumbnails above, things turned out okay, but the photos are short of spectacular. These are going on my site, so I really wanted them to be good, but alas, I am no photo stylist. So if any of you are, and are aching to do some product shots for your portfolio, I'll do you a favor and let you redo the photos of my quilts. Otherwise, this is as good as it's gonna get.

Also in the news this week:
• One of our boarders will be leaving the Rowe School, so there is a vacancy. Anyone wishing to be considered for the big loft bedroom, please apply in writing or in person.
• The squash 100% died.
• I realized that my flight back from NY arrives in Birmingham 18 hours before my best friends wedding, which is an 11 hour drive from here, so I'm going to have to change the ticket.
• Monstercard scanning has begun.
Tastespotting is back!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Edible Monster Card, Pt. 2

We had our Monster Cards game and it was awesome, per usual. I promise as soon as Adam and I have a chance to get our project going, you, too, will know the joys of Monster Cards. I used the game as an excuse to make macha cupcakes. I saw a recipe a few months back and have been wanting to make them ever since. The original recipe calls for pretty pink marzipan flowers on top, but I didn't think that was much in keeping with the theme of the night. Instead, I decorated with monster faces, bacon strips and t-bones, etc. If vanity is the sin that sends me to hell, I'll blame that marzipan bacon.

The cupcakes turned out to be delicious. The same cannot be said for the triumvirate of new Mountain Dew flavors, sampled during the same game of Monster Cards. But I'll let Adam tell you all about that. What I will say is that Mountain Dew: Code Red cannot possibly prepare you for the severity of this latest blunder.

It's been a while since I posted any pictures of the quilts I'm working on. They're looking good and I'll show them to you soon. I'm about to have to take some for-real, professional(ish) shots of them for marketing purposes, which is why I haven't taken any half-assed ones. I'm done with the samples that I'll be taking to New York next month, so you'll get to see those. I'm especially proud when I look at the little Napoleon label in the corner.

The garden is producing a little, but mainly it's failing. The squash plants got huge and are now dying, one by one without ever having shown sign of making a squash. The stems seem to be rotting from the inside. I have no clue if this is due to some failure on my part or if they're diseased, or what, but it's sad. The tomato plants got big, too. No matter how much I stake them, they're a tangled mess. Nevertheless, I've eaten a few tomatoes from them and they're not bad. I also managed to get a Japanese eggplant to grow. I haven't eaten it yet, but it'll be part of my lunch some day this week. Even the sad little cantaloupe plants have put out a couple of runners and are trying their best. I fear for their spotty-leaved, insect-eaten little lives, though. I've learned enough to do better next time, I think. And if it all dies tomorrow, I'll try again.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Edible Monster Card

We made a lovely trip to Dauphin Island this past weekend. First time I've been to the beach in a long time. The weather threatened to be awful but turned out to be just fine. Undetermined quantities of schnapps, shrimps, beers, and bbs were depleted. Look at those delicious, hideous crustaceans. That's a monster card in the making.

And speaking of Monster Cards, we're hosting a game at the Rowe School tonight. Drawing begins at eight. For those of you who have no idea what Monster Cards is, stay tuned. I've got a project in the works that will make it all clear to you.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Not a Hangover Cure

Spinach risotto with goat cheese. I wish I could say it was healthy (healthful), but I can only say it was delicious.

I got an invitation to Spoonflower today. You upload a design, and they'll print it on quilting weight cotton (5 yd maximum). At $18 a yard, it's not what I would call cheap. It is, however, wicked cool. Right now they're in beta so you have to put yourself on a waiting list and get an invitation before you can have your fabric made. My invitation came this morning, but my brain is too addled to design fabric right now. I'll show you what I come up with when I decide to tackle the project, though.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

I love paper!

I picked up my hangtags today and they're so freaking rad! Once my business cards are done and actual real photos of my quilts are up on my website I'll be ready to head to NY. I'm terrified of talking to stores to try to get them to carry my stuff. Not much I can do about that, though.

We saw The Strangers last night. Terrifying without being a really great movie. But then, I'm very easily frightened. If our bedroom were one of the ones attached to the secret room in the house, I definitely would have slept on the couch. Or in the car. Whatever we're watching tonight I think is more gorey than scary, so perhaps I won't need Evan to walk me to the bathroom.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

May It Please the Court

All this talk about cheeseburgling may have been a little misleading. In fact, it's "burgling" only in the sense that it occurs mysteriously and anonymously in the middle of the night. The thing is, whomever the cheeseburgler is, he/she is most certainly an individual who pays for a share of the groceries. As it happens, there's a far more insidious form of burgling afoot at the Rowe School. Please note Exhibit A, above. Everything looks normal, right? Ha! That's where you're wrong. Where, viewer, is our beer? Gone! Snatched! Imbibed! But not by us. The reader may also be interested to know that an undisclosed quantity of Elix's vodka has likewise evaporated. Mysterious indeed.

But now for more pleasant subjects, or at least different ones. I (we) survived Evan's family reunion and Newport Beach. One of the activities of the trip was a boatride around the islands, and let me assure you, it was obscene. "To the left you'll see a grey house with blue awnings, once owned by so-and-so, but purchased recently for $20 million by what's-his-face. Mr. What's-his-face didn't want his $2 million yacht blocking the view, so he bought a $17 million home down the beach and docks it there. No one lives there but his boat." No joke. But I (we) met some fun relatives and drank enough wine to make up for the rest. So happy to be home, though. For reals.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Delirious Cooking

I couldn't sleep all weekend. Really. I think I got a total of about 4 (a generous estimate) hours in, and not for lack of trying. And everyone had to hear about how weird I felt. Sorry about that, guys. Anyway, I'm feeling much better today. I didn't sleep well, but I slept some.

In my early morning frenzy yesterday I made carrot cupcakes for Melissa's birthday. Devon helped me decorate. When I thought about it yesterday afternoon, I realized that I could hardly even remember doing it, or at least, it seemed like some other day. While I was finishing up the baking, Evan and Devon made these baked egg and pita thingies, the recipe for which I found on 101 Cookbooks. They were pretty freaking adorable.

Speaking of food websites, I've been incessantly combing TasteSpotting.com and have come to the conclusion that I seriously need to do something about my food photography skills. It's sort of embarrassing, really.

Anyway, Evan and I are off to Orange County at the end of the week for family time. Wish me luck in locating some excellent tacos.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

New Fabric

So, these are some, but not all, of the fabrics I got in last week. I really, really love them. In fact, everything that came in looked pretty much as I expected it to. My only disappointment is that one fabric turned out to be decorator weight (which is heavier, for those of you who don't deal with fabric) and won't work for quilts, so I'll have to return it. Even that ends up okay, though, since the fabric I was going to pair it with was discontinued.

Band practice went well as did the Cigar Box meeting. I've got some work to do on cover art for David's album and Rodney, Adam, and I are getting together Thursday to talk about the design of the website (something I know nothing about, but I'll be providing the graphics, so).

I've got a lot to do in the next month or so. Everything should be finished for Napoleon by then–the website, tags, labels, and samples–and I'll have to start selling my wares. And then there are my various non-business endeavors. Sounds like my dvd watching is gonna slow down considerably, but I'm excited to start cranking things out.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Not a Complete Failure


Tomato! I grew one! Yay!!

Band practice tonight, which I'm really excited about. It feels like it's been forever, even though it's only been a week.

Also, I decided not to go to Quilt Market because the plane ticket was too expensive...you know, just in case you were wondering. But some of my fabric came in and it's all really cool. Pictures soon.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Forty Theagues.

Hiding for a century and a half in the footnotes of Sir Richard Burton's first translation of One Thousand and One Nights, purportedly fabricated during Scheherazade's nine hundred thirteenth night, creamily woven into the sixth tale of Sinbad, wherein he falls victim to the pleasantest of doldrums as his vessel is stranded in a sea of the most delicious hummus:

Made-Up Hummus

2 cans of chick peas
1 large clove of garlic
2 lemons, juice of
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup soy milk
3 tbsp tahini
1/2 tbsp cholula (or other hot sauce)
1/2 tbsp ground cumin
1/2 tbsp paprika
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp chili powder

Add chick peas to the food processor, setting aside the liquid from one of the cans. Combine all ingredients in the food processor and puree. Add chickpea liquid until you reach the consistency you like. Salt to taste.

Variations:

1. Smooth - Omit hot sauce add 2 tbsp cream cheese

2. Tangy - Replace hot sauce with crushed red pepper, add 1/3 cup cilantro and 1 tsp onion salt

3. Decadent - Replace soy milk and sugar with whipped cream (to taste)

4. Rasta - Replace lemons with 1/2 grapefruit, add 1/3 cup cilantro

5. Extreme - Replace all ingredients with Mountain Dew

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Horseshoes

A pretty low-key weekend. Melissa brought over some awesome white wine on Friday night and we hung out at the house. On Saturday Dr. Jason hosted a Kentucky Derby party, which included many games of horseshoes (check out the double full lean above), mint juleps, and a gigantic cheese ball. Today was Family Band practice. We've got most of our songs down pretty well and just need to remember how we're doing things from one practice to the next. I'm going to finish up the day by making soup and then settling in for some Veronica Mars.

Elix brought me this bread cookbook everyone's talking about, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. I made my first batch of dough Friday night (I used the Light Whole Wheat recipe) and baked a loaf on Saturday morning. It's as easy as the no-knead recipe from Mark Bittman's column, takes less time, and seems to have infinite variations. There are recipes for everything from panettone to classic white bread and all of them require a minimum of effort. You bake straight on a baking stone or cookie sheet (occasionally in a loaf pan). It takes whatever shape you give it, so I can make a regular boule, pita bread, or a baguette all from the same recipe and without any special equipment. Also, with this method you make enough dough for four or eight loaves at once. The rest of the dough keeps in the fridge for up to two weeks. So, no more good intentions and failed follow-through when it comes to bread baking. Evan doesn't like it as well as the other recipe, but I think it's fine.

The Cigar Box buttons came yesterday. Even though I checked the colors with my Pantone swatches, the gold on cigar band button came out way too green. It's a little disappointing, but overall they look nice. I'll post pictures soon. Next up Red Mountain Family Band logo.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Black Forest Cake

I made this pseudo-black forest cake for Andrew's birthday last weekend. It turned out alright, but only because I decided not to make a true black forest cake, which is apparently the hardest cake ever. I really like baking, and I think I'm pretty good at it, but the recipes I was reading were intimidating. For the real deal, the cake is initially extremely dry because you soak it in Kirsch after you bake it. The recipe for that part alone involved mixing with a handmixer for something like 20 minutes total. Then you coat the top and bottom of each layer in liqueur, fill with a whipped cream-ish filling, plus a cherry filling, frost the whole thing with whipped cream and cover it in chocolate shavings. For this one I just made regular chocolate cake, filled it with whipped cream and cherries and iced it with chocolated frosting. Unfortunately the whipped cream did a really poor job of keeping the layers together, but it tasted pretty good, so I don't mind. Thanks to Dr. Jason, a good bit of it was consumed at the party, leaving only a few pieces to eat in a hungover haze in the morning. And speaking of thanks, many many of them to Evan G. who cleaned up the whole house while we were at the afterparty and who also made awesome avocado deviled eggs (Oh! I can't believe I didn't take a picture!) on Sunday.

Last weekend was a lot of fun, but this week has been pretty stressful. I finally got my tax id for buying wholesale, so I've been planning and buying fabric. First of all, most manufacturers have what is for me a very large minimum first order. Second, it's a big commitment to make based on fabric that you're not seeing in person. I'm very particular about colors, and it's hard to say whether two fabrics will look good together when dealing with the inaccuracy of viewing something online. When it all arrives I'll have fabric for something like 80 quilts. Needless to say, that comes out to a whole lot of money, which makes it that much more stressful.

All this makes me think that I should go to the Spring Quilt Market in Portland, OR in a couple of weeks. That's where one goes to see all the new fabrics, etc. It's my chance to see the product up close. But since we're already going to Orange County to visit Evan's family this month, that would mean two trips to the West Coast in two weeks. I can't tell if it's worth it. The energy commitment is enormous. And the idea of walking around a trade-only quilt show sort of makes me feel like an imposter. But if I'm going to get stuck in the same situation in a few months if I don't go, then I should probably just suck it up. Oh, if only I had a quilting buddy to go with me.

I've gotten some other things done besides the fabric this week, thankfully. I'm having my labels printed and Press Charming has started work on my hangtags, which I'm very excited about. I took a look at Jenny's portfolio of name and business cards when we met and they were all amazing. Also, we had band practice on Tuesday, which could have gone better, but was at least helpful in figuring out what to do moving forward. And now off to work on the Cigar Box flier!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Pencils and Picks

Oh man oh man oh man! (Mama) Laura's having a story published in a fancy pants literary magazine! Hell yeah. I haven't known Laura very long, but we're all so awesomely happy for her and look forward to more great things. In fact, she's already ruling musically as the matriarch of The Red Mountain Family Band, in which I play washboard (!!!). Our first show is on June 1st at the Cigar Box fundraiser and it's gonna be freaking rad.

Yeah, I'm in a band, which I never thought I would be because I have no musical inclination. But George, who has the utmost confidence in all of his friends, convinced me to come to practice and put a washboard in my hands. It's a lot of fun, and even though I can't write a base line or even understand the phrase chord progression, I feel useful, so yay.

Anyway, I have a lot of cooking to do so stop distracting me. Jerk.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Black Elizabeth.

Devon has come down for the weekend and probably doesn't know what she's gotten herself into. I was asked a couple of weeks ago if the Rowe School would host the thirtieth birthday of a one Mr. Michael Andrew Morgan. Being the jovial gentlemen that I am, I replied--with an immediate and startling dearth of reluctance--"yes, of course."

This time Devon has attempted and in large part failed to come prepared. Previously she slept on a yoga mat on a hardwood floor like some sort of...er, well..yogi, but this time she bought an air mattress but not a pump. Right know she's overexerting her tiny lungs in a noble attempt to conquer this huge gray slug.

Evan: You realize that you might actually die before you blow that thing up, right?
Devon: At least I'll have a comfortable place to die.

In light of this clever, albeit fallacious response, I've decided not to come to her aid.

However, I urge everyone to come to Andrew's aid as he attempts to conquer his thirtieth year of existence. Mr. Morgan has been one my closest friends for over ten years now, and I expect you all to come singing his praises and showering him with valuable trinkets, twinkies, trinkies and hugs.

And for you, my curmudgeonly rube, bon courage in your third decade, even though I'm pretty sure you've been thirty for as long as I've known you!

Love,

Evan

p.s. As you all expected, I am not making good on any of the promises I made in my last post.

(exeunt.)

Monday, April 21, 2008

Beets!

Oh, my adorable little beet sprouts! I assume that's what you are because you're in the area where I planted beets. Please do not turn out to be weeds. I've already killed one of my cantaloupes, and I really need the reassurance of your presence.

I'm out of batting and should order more. Every day I wait for the mail, hoping that my state tax ID will arrive and that I will be able to order wholesale. So I've been putting it off and now I've run out of quilting supplies. In the meantime, though, I have other projects. Some embroidery, the koi quilt I've been working on for months and months, and buttons for Cigar Box. But first I have to pull myself away from Word Twist. Damn you, Facebook!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Weird Evan Loves Chess

For those of you who don't know Weird Evan, it will suffice, for the purposes of this post, to tell you that he brings a chess set with him everywhere. I suspect that this might conjure images of some douchey guy you knew in college, the same one who probably reads at bars, hoping someone will ask him about whatever novel or philosophy book he happens to be posing with at the time. I assure you, it's not that kind of thing. Weird Evan really just loves chess. Because of this he'd like to get a group of people together and teach it to them. So if you're interested in learning or brushing up your mad skillz, let it be known, and he'll show you how it's done. Represent.

Friday, April 18, 2008

The Newspaper Is Depressing

Of course the paper has always been depressing to a greater or lesser extent, but these are the things that I've read about today:

– Nalgene bottles, among other things, contain a chemical that caused precancerous tumors, urinary tract problems, and early puberty in lab rats.

– Mark Bittman's writes about Coca-Cola and India in his April 16th blog post. Probably I could have found a million other reasons to boycott Coke, but I've never really wanted one. My grandfather was once an employee of the Coca-Cola Company and instilled in me a deep love of the beverage. Now this is staring me in the face. Good-bye, Coke Zero.

– Both Citigroup and AT&T are set to lay off loads of people (9,000 and 4,600 respectively)

– And then there's this article about underage pregnancy in a polygamous sect

Just yesterday Evan and I were saying that we should get our NY Times subscription going again. I may, however, prefer to remain ignorant.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Why Elix's Dad Is the Best Dad Ever

Yay for kitchen gardens! Yay for help building them! Elix's dad came over today to take a look at things and then took us to the store to buy everything we needed for making a raised bed. And then (!!!) he built one for us! We planted tomatoes, squash, and beets with a day lily at each end of the bed. He also tilled another spot for us to put in cantaloupe, but I need to get some more soil before I plant them.

While Elix and I were off getting gardening stuff, Evan taped off the trim in the dining room for painting, which I guess we'll do tomorrow. Yay for Evan, who never complains when I steal his weekends.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Vegetables

Last weekend I bought some plants and seeds for a vegetable garden. Every day I feel more guilty about not having done anything with them. To be fair, I potted the herbs (thyme, basil, oregano, and rosemary), and I was waiting for toilet paper rolls in which to start my seeds. Now that Rodney has kindly bestowed them upon me, I can probably take care of that part this afternoon. My big plans for building a raised bed in the backyard, however, keep being pushed back because I'm intimidated by the project. Not only building the bed, but the whole kitchen garden thing. But watching the poor little tomato, cantaloupe, and summer squash plants die in their plastic containers on my porch is a lot worse than just starting the garden.

So that's my first weekend project. The second is to paint the dining room, which is a really gross color of green. Honestly, the color isn't so bad, but it makes the room sort of dismal (and it really doesn't go with my complexion). If you're handy with a paint roller and really want to give your arms a workout, come over on Saturday and I'll put you to work. I mean, as a favor to you.

I'm finishing up the binding on the latest quilt. I had enough fabric for two of these. As much as I dislike the cutting and pinning part of the process, things really go faster when you do more than one at a time.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Litmus Test.

The Rowe School blog, so far as I can see, has found its niche as more a dayplanner and travelogue (minus the travel--domilogue?) than a creative outlet. This is not an insult in the least: the former are far more interesting and widely less fraudulent than the latter. In classic Rowe-School fashion, I am going to make a list. In classic Rowe-School fashion, the list will lack adhesive, teetering between a checklist for goals or shopping and a list of upcoming events, then tottering into mindless soapbox proselytizing. Ready? Let's begin:

> For the past two days I've awoken to the sound a bowling alley makes when you put it in a blender. Roofers. After a dozen calls to the realty company explaining that "our porch is raining," they responded not by calling back but by sending a ruthless band of merry men, presumably made of windchimes and unoiled hinges, to our house at what is probably the crack of dawn in California. At least they're doing something about it, which is more that I can say about the smell in Elix's room.

> Today we got the security system activated, which ought to protect us from criminals if not the ceaseless vengeance of the restless ghosts who haunt the basement and secret room. I hope angry, unforgiving spirits can't set of a motion detector, because that could get annoying. When you turn on the alarm, you have eighty seconds to walk twenty feet to the door and close it behind you. This may prove a challenge for Elix, who is never and has never actually been ready to leave.

> Crime is afoot at the Rowe School, and I think it's an inside job. The mysterious overnight disappearance of sliced cheese has rocked the lunch-sandwich community. The bread population is stable, so someone is taking it straight up--a shameful act at which at least one of my two suspects would scoff. I know who you are; you know who you are, too, cheeseburglar. I'm going to Matlock a confession out of you if it's the last thing I do.

> I'm afraid I'm not going to make it to the proselytizing. I had a lot more bullet-points to come, but I'm afraid I have some actual work to do. Next time: new publication (work-in-progress), updates on my essay about secret underground baby-trading, as well as breaking news about American military operations. Here's a preview:

U.S. Military Unveils New Secret Weapon: Criss Angel

David H. Patraeus, Commanding General of the Multi-National Force in Iraq, announced at a press conference in Washington this afternoon that the U.S. government, exercising the power of imminent domain, has purchased Criss Angel from A&E Network for the price of $724,000 for use in the overseas conflict.

"As a responsible government," said Patraeus, "it is our duty to make sure we harness every available resource to ensure victory in Iraq. To overlook or ignore the tactical advantage a powerful wizard could give us would be, well, foolish."

Love,

Evan