Saturday, May 31, 2008

photo meme

This meme has been going around the blog world these past few days (thanks Amy and Dallas). I wanted to try too!





a. Type your answer to each of the questions below into Flickr Search.

b. Using only the first page, pick an image.

c. Copy and paste each of the URLs for the images into fd’s mosaic maker.


The Questions:



  1. What is your first name?

  2. What is your favorite food?

  3. What high school did you go to?

  4. What is your favorite color?

  5. Who is your celebrity crush?

  6. Favorite drink?

  7. Dream vacation?

  8. Favorite dessert?

  9. What you want to be when you grow up?

  10. What do you love most in life?

  11. One Word to describe you.

  12. Your flickr name.




Thursday, May 29, 2008

painting: before & after

I spent the past two evenings painting and fixing up our guest bedroom. I'm getting the room ready for the new quilt that I'll be making from the blocks from the virtual quilting bee, Common Threads, that I'm participating in.





Ever since we first painted this room, I've never really been happy with the color. I've been plotting a color change for quite a while and finally painted the room last night. The old color was Buxton Blue and the new is Sierra Hills (both from Benjamin Moore).





Here's the after picture with our temporary duvet. We normally use this in our bedroom for the winter, so this will work in the guest room for now.





I pulled together a few of our favorite photos from our Japan trip and made a photo collage above the bed. I'm glad to have some pictures hanging up in our house that remind us of our trip!

Next up, I've got to make curtains for the window, a runner for the dresser, and, of course, the new quilt for the bed.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

back to school

This whole school thing is seriously infringing on my free time! I've had to move my sewing machine and quilting project off my desk to make room for books instead. I'm trying to write my first research paper and I'm definitely a little rusty in the paper writing department here!





Luckily I have my little buddy to keep me company. He looks like he belongs on my desk, doesn't he? I guess he's my living paperweight for now. If only he could talk and help me write my paper, eh?

Monday, May 19, 2008

Couscous tossed salad





My friend, Laura, shared this recipe with me last month at a church potluck. I've made it at least three times since then. It is so simple and easy to make and it's absolutely delicious!



Dressing:
1/4 cup Olive Oil
Juice of Two Lemons
Salt & Pepper
Chopped mint (8-12 leaves)



Salad:
Lettuce
Sliced Radishes
Sliced Cucumbers
Feta Cheese
Cous Cous (about 1 cup)



Mix the dressing and then toss it with the salad.



Sunday, May 18, 2008

gardening weekend

Well, after 7 trips to the city department of public works for free compost and mulch, 2 trips to Lowe's for hoses, grass seed, mulch, top soil, and peat moss, one surprise trip to my parents' house to borrow their rototiller (my dad thought it was stolen because my sister forgot to tell him that we stopped by and I didn't email him to update him on the situation), and one trip to Eastern Market for herbs and veggies, we were set to begin our gardening adventures of 2008.



Here's a before picture of our garden from Thursday night:







And, here it is today.







We made lots of improvements to the garden this year: better planting organization, a better balance of plants (we hope), a new trellis for the climbing sugar snap peas, mulch in between each row to cut down on weeds, and a new irrigation system set up with 2 soaker hoses. We're hoping this new watering system will cut down on watering time and wasted water.



This year we planted tomatoes, red, green, and yellow peppers, zucchini, eggplant, cucumbers, bush beans, sugar snap peas, lettuce, celery, onions, and garlic. And because we organized the garden better, we were able to leave one row for a cutting garden with daisies, snap dragons, zinnias, lychnis, gallardia, black-eyed susans and coneflowers. I can't wait to have fresh flowers inside this summer!








And, I have my herb garden set up this year. I think I made better plant choices this year for the herbs, so hopefully I'll be able to use them all for cooking. I planted dill, oregano, basil, cilantro, rosemary, chives, mint and shiso (perilla).








Here's our next project for the summer...turning this flower bed into a japanese garden. Jon's in search of cocoa shell mulch, pea gravel, a stone lantern and a stone water basin. I transplanted the coral bells and astilbe from this flower bed to our front garden and left him two ferns, a pine tree that he's training into a life-sized bonsai plant and a bleeding heart. He's got big plans for this space!



It took us about two months to get to this point in our yard maintenance last year, so it feels great to get the majority of it finished in one weekend! Next weekend, we'll be planting some annuals and mulching the rest of the flower beds in the front yard...easy peasy!






And, with all this work this weekend, we also managed to fit in a trip to the Ann Arbor Book Fair to see Jon's erhu teacher, XD Wei play. We spoke with her husband afterward and he complimented Jon on how well he plays. He told Jon that on the easier songs, sometimes he can't tell if it's Jon or his wife playing. Yay! Jon is so talented and dedicated to practicing, so this was such a nice compliment for him!



Tuesday, May 13, 2008

granola, gardening, quilting, and knitting





Jon made up a delicious batch of granola last night. He used Amanda's recipe and included 2 cups of almonds, 1 cup of coconut and raisins and dried cherries. It's delish! We've got seven other recipes to try, so we'll definitely be experimenting with granola recipes for the next few months.



Here's her recipe:



8 cups old fashioned oats

2-3 cups goodies (nuts, coconut, etc. don't add the fruit here)



mix together in a large bowl

-----

1/2 cup veg or canola oil

1/2 cup maple syrup

1/2 cup honey

dash o' salt

generous splash of vanilla



heat these ingredients until well blended



then add this to the oats mixture. stir to coat.



bake at 350 degrees stirring every 10 minutes or so until brown.



then I throw raisins on a pan and stick them in the oven just until
they start to plump up a bit. take them out of the oven and stir with
sugar. (the sugar will stick to the raisins, just like in raisin bran)







Our bleeding heart bush is in full bloom. I think it has tripled in size since last year. This is one of my favorite plants, so I picked up another one at a local plant sale last weekend. Early blooming spring plants are such a great treat! Walking outside to take pictures was really depressing this afternoon...I've been trying to ignore the yardwork as long as possible and it's getting really overwhelming. Jon and I will be working up the vegetable garden soil (read: hauling dirt), planting some new perennials, digging up last years' annuals and mowing this weekend. Our yard is a dump right now! Eek...I hope the weather is nice this weekend!





I've been a little preoccupied lately with this new crafting venture, the Common Threads Virtual Quilting Bee. Everything is set up and I mailed out my fabric for the swap last weekend. I'm looking forward to seeing all of the quilts and squares everyone will be making in the next year! Special thanks to Melissa for coming up with this great idea! Be sure to check out the blog to see all of the great quilting inspiration that's coming from all of our members. My head is swarming with ideas for new quilts!









And, of course, what post wouldn't be complete without another ball band dish cloth picture? This was about my only crafting adventure this past weekend.



Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day

to our biggest supporters!



Diana




Sandi




We love you both very much!





And, I'll leave you with a silly mother passage from A Girl Named Zippy:



Now even though my mother almost never left the couch, she was a woman
of many gifts, my favorite being her ability to make anything she was
eating crunch. I still don't know how she did it, and I tried to stump
her with a wide variety of foods.

"Aha! Try these raisins," I would say, triumphantly.
And she'd put a couple of raisins in her mouth and crunch, crunch, crunch. She could make them sound like corn nuts.
"Okay, what about this applesauce cake?"

Into her mouth. Crunch.
"Do
you have some kind of trick teeth?" I asked her, but she said no, so I
made her open her mouth and show me. It appeared that, remarkably, they
were normal."



Thursday, May 8, 2008

messenger bag






In honor of my return to school, I, of course, had to make a new book bag for myself. I used the Mischievous Gnome Messenger Bag pattern from Montessori by Hand and some Anna Griffin Sierra collection fabric from Sew, Mama, Sew (along with corduroy from Joanns).








It took about five hours to finish this project, most of which was spent cutting out fabric and trying to figure out the directions. The directions and photos for the patterns are clear and well laid out. It just takes me forever to figure out a new pattern. Next time, though, I'm sure it will go much faster.



I do have one suggestion that I'd recommend if you're going to try making this pattern yourself (one that I wish I had thought of before I finished the bag!). Use a zipper foot to do the top stitching. This will help you to sew closer to the bulky seams around the straps.



The bag is big, sturdy and roomy! It fits my laptop, 2" binder and two textbooks comfortably.






Wednesday, May 7, 2008

A Girl Named Zippy

I just finished reading a really cute and sarcastic book, A Girl Named Zippy. It's a memoir about growing up in a small town in Indiana.



I had to laugh when I read the following passage. My friends and family always tease me about by house one day being overtaken by all things homemade. Please, stop me if I ever get this crazy!



"There was a woman in our church named Rose of Sharon who was so crafty that my mom said she probably crocheted her major kitchen appliances out of steel wool. I went to a baby shower at her house one night. All the women and girls from the church were there, and we each, in the spirit of Quakerism, left the party with a gift. There were no winners. I got a purse, which Rose of Sharon had made out of a plastic butter bowl. She punched holes around the top of the bowl and attached a crocheted top with a drawstring. It was a very clever and handy design for a purse. My mom "won" a doll with a hooped skirt that covered up a roll of toilet paper, and my sister took home a hat that was made from smashed soda cans held together with yarn. Rose of Sharon's entire house was covered with her art, which feature, in addition to knitted things, yards and yards of peach and pink lace attached to the bottom of everything that wasn't moving. R.O.S. had some condition which caused her eyes to bug out so far one could nearly see her brain; my mom suggested it was probably caused from the shock and horror of waking up in that house every day."



Monday, May 5, 2008

crochet and knit progress





I'm still on that dish cloth kick! This time I switched it up with a new pattern. The chinese waves dishcloth (free pattern found here).







I guess I'm similar to Amy in that we're both one trick ponies when it comes to crochet! I had originally tried to learn the soft waves ripple pattern, but I just could concentrate hard enough to figure it out...so another granny square it is! This time, I'm sewing in the ends as a go and making one large square instead of 80 smaller squares.







And...we officially have a tulip border! I'm afraid that these blooms are almost spent. But, it's been a delight to come home to these flowers every day!



Thursday, May 1, 2008

ginger beer & a calzone

We've gone on crazy in our house making new foods from scratch. But, according to Jon, he has no desire to ever make his own honey! We'll be sticking to the store-bought honey and avoiding bee stings for sure.







First up, Jon has been experimenting with making Ginger Beer. After testing quite a few brands that we've found locally, our favorite store-bought Ginger Beer is Sioux City Ginger Beer (is this really famous in Iowa?). In an effort to save money on our ginger beer habit and experiment in the kitchen, I found this recipe on Wired.com and Jon attempted the recipe twice. The first batch seemed more like a light ginger water. We're thinking that the water temperature the yeast was resting in was too high and the recipe didn't work quite right. Also, we think the honey used in the first batch didn't react as well with the yeast as the sugar we used the second time around did. The second batch came out great, though. It's so amazing that you can add some yeast, ginger and sugar to water and get a carbonated beverage after 24 hours! The ginger beer gets a little more yeasty tasting each day, so it's best drunk in about 24-48 hours.







And, I've tried the Light Wheat and Olive Oil bread recipes from Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day. I stepped up the original bread recipe and made this delicious Spinach and Ricotta Calzone last weekend. This recipe is definitely a keeper! But, then again, cheese will make any vegetable taste better, right?!



Next up, I'd like to make some of my own granola. I found a couple recipes in The Joy of Cooking, but do you have any recipes that you'd recommend? We like dried fruit, nuts, and grains, so anything is fair game for the recipe!



And, thanks to Priscilla and Cami for nominating me for a You Make My Day Award! I hate having to choose great blogs because I read so many each day and they are all so inspiring, but I guess I'll have to list a couple. So here are a few of my new favorites (my sidebar has the rest):



The Long Thread



Betty Ninja



If Sew