Thursday, December 1, 2011

It's the little things

There are roughly a zillion things I love about our new house. But to narrow it down a bit, today we will focus on sinks.

The kitchen sink is the center of attention here. It has two basins: one is deep and wide, enough to get my biggest pan in there for serious scrubbing. The other basin, which contains the disposal, is shallower, but not so shallow that it overflows nasty disposal gunk onto the coutertop when the dishwasher runs, like the disposal-sink at a certain house we won't mention.

Then there's the utterly mundane-seeming garage sink. A sink... in the garage. What a concept. I've never had one of these before, but it is so logical, you want to smack your forehead with your palm. Of course, when you are in the garage, and working on some garden task or other garagey chore, you would want to wash your hands!

(In our McGarvey house I wanted to put in a garage sink, mostly to create a dark room. The contractor that came out estimated the work to be in the thousands. That never happened, obviously. I don't know that a dark room is in the cards at this house, partly because there's a skylight almost directly above the garage sink.)

Sunday, August 21, 2011


If anyone remembers the colorful walls in our old house, you'll understand how excrutiatingly bored I am with our current white walls (which are also textured to death and therefor way too hard to paint, especially since this house will probably get torn down some time in the next year or two!).

So since I can't paint walls, I'm painting furniture.

I've had this dresser for about 13 years. Who knew I'd still have it now after buying it at Meijer in Champaign and putting it together with Nathan in my apartment there?

It's not the world's ugliest dresser, but some sprucing up sure couldn't hurt it.

The blogoshpere is abuzz with the stenciling trend, so I decided to try it out on this small scale. Here's the initial attempt:

Not perfect by any means, but not bad. The fact that the stencil hangs off the drawer makes it bow and therefor there's space for bleed. I bought a can of repositionable adhesive for the next round. I also decided I'm not madly in love with this result, so I'm going to try white-on-turquoise next instead of the other way around. We'll see how it goes.

Now, the next big question: What kind of hardware? Any thoughts on what goes with Moroccan window pattern in turquoise?

Friday, April 23, 2010

Overreach much?

Here's a list of my current craft projects:

-T-shirt quilt: Believe it or not, the reason I started sewing. Years ago I heard of people making quilts out of the screen prints, iron-ons, etc, on all those t-shirts from high school, college, runs, bike rides, and I thought, Of COURSE that's what I should do! I immediately cut the front (and sometimes back) designs out of the tshirts that I didn't want to wear any more and turned the remaining fabric into rags. Now I'm quilting on a 15-patch top. Shirts include those from a Yellowstone trip when I was 11, horseback camp when I was 12, a mission trip to Mississippi with my youth group the summer I graduated from high school, and a couple bike rides from the last 10 years. Oddly, I realized after I had assembled the top, I didn't include any college tees, even though I collected a good dozen in my four years.

Unfortunately, my machine started acting all wonky a little while after I started using the "free-motion" foot for the quilting and I think I'll have to take it in to have it looked at. In the meantime, I'm piecing the next quilt with no problem.

-Dinosaur quilt: It's a "crazy nine-patch" with about 6 dinosaur prints and three other coordinating "solid" prints. It's meant for Arthur, who just moved into a twin bed from his toddler bed. This one I just started when quilting on the t-quilt got to be too much. I've cut out the 12x12 pieces necessary to start my first few blocks and hope to start cutting soon.

-Dying: Yesterday I started dying some pieces of IKEA curtain fabric cut from some too-long curtains that came with our new house. They are muslin-like, and my first attempt at eggplant turned out beautifully! This will surely be cheaper than buying new quilting fabric. And didn't quilting start out as a form of recycling?

-Sun shirt: I realized recently that I need a flowy, light-colored shirt for covering up when it's warm and sunny (those days will come soon, right?). I tried one on at Patagonia called "Sun Shelter" but it just wasn't flowy. I don't want a fitted blouse when I'm sweating in the sun! I haven't *really* started this project, but I have cut out some of the pattern pieces and ordered the fabric.


Believe it or not, I only have one knitting project in progress: A tank made from corn yarn. I am trying to decide from among three other patterns for my next one...


I am so, so behind on scrapbooking. Right now I'm working on a surprise gift for someone that I need to finish in the next month or so. I've started working on Australia. And I've been doing a bit of the day-to-day stuff of the boys growing and having fun in the meantime.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Gluten-free baking

I now have roughly 18 different kinds of gluten-free flour in my pantry. If you don't believe me, check out the baking aisle next time you're at Whole Foods. (After reading a magazine called Living Without, purchased at WF, natch, I realize I now need coconut flour, too.

I bought a book recently called Allergy Free Desserts. I made the lemon bars, and those were decent. But the Cherry Bars were so 0ff-the-hook-amazing I feel like I got my money's worth on just that one recipe. The second batch is almost gone, and even my hubby thinks they're great.

Then there's The Cravings Place, which does great brownies and customizable quickbread/muffin mix. I may have to start ordering it in bulk...

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Call me Purl Girl

I am officially obsessed with knitting. When I see someone wearing a sweater, I stare and try to determine the kind of stitch and the yarn weight. When I'm falling asleep at night, I think about what I knitted that day and/or what I'll knit the next day. I'm falling behind on my quilting and way, WAY behind on scrapbooking (Joshua Tree? Only happened a year ago. I did purchase an album for Australia though...). I can't remember the last time I left my house without an in-progress knitting project in a tote.

What have I knitted so far? Three hats, which are pretty cool. Part of a poncho. And the front of a sweater for my four-year-old. The poncho is on hold because I need help with my increases, which are MUCH harder than decreases, IMO. I hope to actually complete some large projects soon...

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Knit happens

Last month Megan taught me how to knit! If I knew where the scarf that I was working went to, I would have a picture of how the rows that she cast on and started for me are all neat and lovely, and then there are a few rows of mess before I start to get the hang of it. Over Christmas I bought a book and taught myself how to purl on the plane home. (Purling is not the horribly un-fun, nearly impossible task some people would have you believe.) With this same book I taught myself how to cast on, increase and decrease. These are all good things to know if you want to make stuff with yarn.

I made this hat with a pattern in the book. I followed all the instructions and made a swatch to check the size of my stitches, but it turned out way too small. I made it with the intent of wearing it myself but it's too small for two-and-a-half-year-old (who has a giant head, but still). Maybe my little one-year-old niece can wear it.

I'm knitting another hat in the same pattern but with 20 percent more cast-on stitches and about 15 extra rows. I've also ordered some circular needles to do the next project I want to work on from the book: a sweet-looking poncho.

*Yes, I stole the title of this post from the book.
** If you're ever in St. Louis, get thee to the Knittery.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Butternut squash and split-pea stew

I made this recipe tonight, and as usual, it was fantastic. I clipped it out of Sunset Magazine a few years ago because I love butternut squash, and it sounded interesting. I make it at least a few times each fall. It is so flavorful and unique.

I halve the amount of butter used to save some calories, and I don't believe that it detracts from the taste. The star anise are a bit pricey, but not any more than the meat for a similar sized non-vegetarian dish would cost.

It also goes pretty quickly, after you get the squash cooked. Earlier in the afternoon, I cut the very top off a big squash (to vent) and put it in a glass baking dish with half a cup of water, covered loosely with plastic wrap. 15 minutes in the microwave and I was able to easily slice the skin off with a knife and chop the meat. I left it in a bowl on the coutnertop covered with the plastic wrap.

Yum yum yum!!