Sunday, December 28, 2008

A Successful Holiday Season

I am back home tonight after a week of visiting family for Christmas and Chanukah. I didn't manage to give any truly handmade presents this year. However, I did give a few somewhat crafty things - my sister-in-law got a gift certificate to Spoonflower, and I gave my uncle some postage stamps from Zazzle with an image I drew myself:

I've really been wanting to try Spoonflower, but haven't come up with a really thrilling idea for a custom print yet - so let's see if I come up with something before my sister-in-law does!

As far as GETTING crafty presents, my mother-in-law and sister-in-law (from Mr. Moxie's side) gave me some craft books from Kumiko Sudo I've been really wanting to get: East Quilts West, Fantasies & Flowers: Origami in Fabric for Quilters, and Folded Flowers: Fabric Origami with a Twist of Silk Ribbon. I love love love Kumiko Sudo. Really neat graphic designs, combined with 3D elements, combined with cool color combinations. Sadly, I haven't had a chance to actually make any of the projects out of any of her books, but perhaps 2009 will finally be my year. :) I would love to make a soft "book" out of a sequence of her designs, especially the ones in Folded Flowers, but I don't know any little girls of the right age to give that as a gift.

They also got me Threadbared: Decades of Don'ts from the Sewing and Crafting World, a book published by the people behind the hilarious, and sadly defunct, Threadbared website.

And finally, they gave me Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking, a bread cooking book I've heard good things about.

Overall, quite satisfying!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Presence of presents

All presents wrapped!

Today, I wrapped all the Christmas presents we're giving. Looks pretty festive! I went a little overboard with adding strips of contrasting paper, but I really had fun.

I enjoy doing quick, impermanent crafty things like this when I have the chance. I also got to help my sister-in-law decorate a cake a few weeks back. I like being able to be creative without stressing as much as I do over a "permanent" object.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

More Basil At Once

The basil is finally taking off, so I'm able to get a good amount at once if I let it go a few days between trimming. Here's the amount I was able to get one day to sprinkle over salad & pasta with dinner:
Harvested Basil
We left town for a week for Thanksgiving and I was a little nervous how it would go with us gone - would the basil take off, grow into the light, and burn down our apartment? Happily, no. I trimmed the heck out of it before we left, so it looked like this:
After aggressive trimming
And after we got back it looked like this:
After 1 week away

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Another Dinner

Yet another recipe from The Healthy Slow Cooker!
Mushroom & chickpea stew with roasted pepper coulis
This is mushroom and chickpea stew with roasted red pepper coulis. It came out a bit spicier than I was expecting. I guess from the turmeric. I hadn't realized turmeric was spicy - I thought it was just, well, yellow! The vinegar in the coulis is a nice contrast to the spiciness, though.
I love chickpeas. I can eat them plain, right out of the can. So it's nice to find a recipe to put them in. Too bad it used up the whole can and there were no leftover chickpeas for me... ;)

Thursday, September 25, 2008


Moroccan-style chicken with prunes & quinoa
This is Moroccan-style chicken with prunes & quinoa, another recipe from The Healthy Slow Cooker. The chicken & prunes are also flavored with lemon zest and some other spices. It's especially tasty if you get a bite with chicken, prunes, & quinoa all together. I also think it's a little better leftover, when the flavors have blended together more.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

New Fabric

New fabric
I finally got this fabric, which I had preordered from Heather Bailey when she launched her new store. It's all from the Pop Garden collection. I had a vague idea in mind of making a quilt from it - with some fussy cutting to highlight the fabric design - but now I'm not so sure if that's what I'll do. I think I bought the fabric in a sort of fugue state induced by the bright colors. Well, there are worse things to have lying about the place than cheerful fabric.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Making Things

This video of a man making vacuum tubes is like a grownup version of the unforgettable Sesame Street orange crayon sequence. I love these kinds of mellow, self-explanatory videos - they inspire me to keep making things with my hands, and not just sit at my desk writing software.

Friday, September 19, 2008


Our little Aerogarden is still alive, and successful so far:
The garden has grown
The basil has really taken off. I've pinched it off at the top - once it gets bushier I plan to try to keep it closer to the height of the rest of the plants. This latest trimming was the first where we were able to harvest more than just a couple leaves at once:
The harvest
We had this on top of green salad with dinner. Yum!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Quilt Plans

I planned out the little demo quilt I made pretty carefully. Once I knew which 20 patches from the book I was going to use, I drew scale versions of each patch and decided how they would be colored - which sections would be the dark, medium, or light fabric. Then I tried different arrangements of the patches, then taped it together once I was satisfied. I arranged it so that the light, medium, and dark fabric would be distributed evenly. I also made sure the more complicated squares were on the inside, and the simpler ones on the edge.

Then, since you quilt from the inside to the edges, I did simple quilting patterns in the middle and more complicated ones at the edge. Basically, as a way to learn more and get better as I went. I drew out the quilting before I started it as well:
Quilting plan

Since the marbled print was somewhat directional and the handwritten print was very directional, I was careful when I cut out the pieces so that the prints would go the way I wanted.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

First Quilt

First pieced quilt
This is the first quilt I ever made. It's 2' by 3' - it could be a wall hanging, I suppose? I made it verrrrry slowly over the course of a couple of years. The individual patches were made as I read through Quilter's Complete Guide and did the tutorials. It's a great book - I highly recommend it for anyone thinking of taking up patchwork and quilting, but not sure how to start.
Here are close-ups of the three fabrics I used:
Fabric for pieced quilt
Here's what the back looks like, though you can't see the quilting any more clearly this way due to the print:
Back of quilt

Thursday, September 11, 2008

A Little Decorative Project

Here's a little thing I sewed from a project in an old craft book, some years back. The project was for a pillow, but as is my wont I scaled it down quite small.
Appliqué project
The fabrics are all scraps. In fact, some of them are from free swatches. One weekend while I was still in college I decided to see how many free swatches I could get over the internet. Quite a few, in fact! I have about a half of a shoebox full. The light blue on the bird's breast is from a satin swatch, and the green is from a linen swatch. The bird's eye is embroidered with wool yarn.
Here's the back - the quilting is quite simple:
Back of quilting
I actually rather like it - I may put it in a little frame and hang it up. There's a bit of inertia around that though - Mr. Mongie and I currently don't have ANYTHING hung up on our walls.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Another Starting Quilting Project

Here's the second thing I ever quilted:
Second quilted project
This time, I actually read some directions on binding first. Here's the back:
Back of quilting
Again, quite easy to do due to the small size. The hearts are appliqued to the front. I used a paper template to quilt the smaller hearts at the corners.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

First-ever Quilting

Here's the first quilting I ever did, four or five years ago:
First quilted project
It's a little...coaster? I made it out of fabric scraps. The geometric print is apparently not washable, as it bled when I ironed down the seams. But, I didn't pay attention to the directionality of the print, so it's messed up by that anyway. Here's what the back looks like:
Back of quilting
I had never learned anything about how to do a binding, and so just made it up as I went, as you can most likely tell. I'm pretty pleased with how the quilting itself turned out (it was through very low-loft polyester batting), but of course it's quite easy to quilt such a small square since you can flip it over to the back.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Happy Labor Day

Here are my nephew and my brother-in-law celebrating in their own way.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Other Plantlife

Here is the other mini-garden I'm attempting to maintain. My mother gave me this adorable little cactus garden for my birthday. Unfortunately one of the six plants died immediately, but the rest are still OK. I used to get irritated when the sun shone through the sliding door from our balcony, but now I wish it were even more sunny for the cacti.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Chicken Cassoulet

Another crockpot dinner:
Chicken Cassoulet
I LOVE this dish. The recipe is from The Healthy Slow Cooker, like the soup. There are two main keys to this dish: fresh dill and cremini mushrooms. The dill, freshly chopped, gets added right at the end of the cooking time and adds a wonderful flavor. The mushrooms are like little treasures hidden throughout the dish. It makes a huge difference to use fresh mushrooms (where the gills aren't open yet), both in flavor and texture. The chicken thighs fall apart into a wonderful stewy consistency. So good! I always make the largest batch possible so I can have the leftovers for lunch all week.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

It's Alive!

We got an AeroGarden when it was a Gold Box special on Amazon. It came with the standard herb seed kit, in which we were quite pleased to discover that the cilantro had been replaced by thyme! Upgrade! We set it up last weekend, and the basil and thyme were our first sprouts.
Now, the purple basil, dill, and chives have sprouted as well.
More sprouts
We also bought the cherry tomato seed kit, so once the herbs run their course we'll try that too.
Despite having avid gardeners as parents, I'm not too skilled at keeping plants alive. So it's nice to have the Aerogarden, which I like to think of as a little robot that helps us keep them going. It's...THE GERMINATOR. "Come with me if you want [your plants] to live!"

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Make it Snappy

Now that I have stretched it out into a remarkable number of posts, the little silverware tote is finally finished.
Snaps re-do
I got my hands on some plain old sew-on snaps, pried out the less-than-happy hammered-on snaps, and sewed the new ones on. Success! It snaps and unsnaps as well as I could have hoped. It has plenty of imperfections but I did learn a lot from making it.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Souped Up

Mushroom Lentil Soup
This is Mushroom Lentil Soup, made in our slow cooker, from The Healthy Slow Cooker. One of our very favorite recipes from a favorite book. The garnish is Greek yogurt and chives. This recipe is especially great, because it's even better when it's leftover and the flavors have melded even more.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

I Snapped

Setback on the silverware tote. Even through just a single layer of fabric, the snaps are just not staying together. I even enlisted the help of Mr. Mongie to hammer the bejeezus out of it, but it still pulled right out of the fabric after being snapped & unsnapped the first time. So, time to regroup and get my hands on some sew-on snaps. I've used those before but thought the hammer-on snaps would be sturdier. Alas, it is not so, in this instance!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Oh, Snap!

I bought some snaps this weekend and started applying them to the silverware case.
Top half of snaps
I got the tops parts in, but am having difficulty with the bottom parts. I think the fabric is a little too thick. Of course, it didn't help matters that I put them in upside down the first time. Hmm, maybe I need to cut a little hole in the brown vinyl part on the inside, so that the prongs only need to grip through one layer. I'll try that in a bit - I hit my thumb with the hammer trying to get the snaps applied, and need some recovery time!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Non-Ironic Cross Stitch

Here's a fluffy little cross-stitch kit I completed some time ago. As you can see, I did it with much smaller count fabric than suggested. I like to do this - I've always liked working on miniature scale for some reason.
Sorceress cross stitch
Now I don't know what to do with it. It might be neat to put it in the cover of a blank book, but then I would have to learn book-binding too. :)

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Fabrics In Baby Quilt

Here's a photo of the fabrics I used for my nephew's quilt - a cute tadpole print, and a plain light green flannel.
Fabric for baby quilt

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The First Bed-size Quilt I Ever Completed

Baby Quilt
This is my adorable nephew, a week old, with the little quilt I made for him. It's crib-sized. It's whole-cloth, not pieced - the entire top is made from one rectangle of a cute print of tadpoles in jars. I just quilted in straight lines between the print - it was pretty easy, but still looks nice since I let the print do the heavy lifting. The backing & binding are super-soft green flannel (in fact, just cut out of a flannel sheet). I've heard that quilters don't like yellow quilts - not sure why, since it's so cheerful and sunny!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Silverware Tote Sewn Together

Whew, I pulled it off! Here is how it looks (along with the pattern pieces I created from tracing the original:
Sewn silverware tote with pattern pieces
I still need to buy some snaps to sew on for a closure. Maybe two snaps - I haven't decided yet. Here's what it looks like with the silverware inside (and flap tucked in for now):
Silverware tote in need of a snap
Mr. Mongie has declared it "very cute." If I were to do it again, I would make it taller so that the silverware fit entirely in the bottom of the case and the flap folded flush with the top of the opening.

Saturday, August 2, 2008


I'm having some trouble with the silverware tote I started. First, I had to cut the inner part down a bit and then resew it, as it didn't fit inside the outer case. The fabrics are more difficult to work with than I thought. The vinyl-coated fabric is pretty difficult to sew through, even using a small, sharp needle. The printed fabric is actually pretty ravelly - the waffle weave is rather loose. And I'm blind-stitching these two fabrics together with a 1/8th inch seam allowance! Clearly I'm not being challenged enough at work if is this what I'm doing for FUN. (^_^)

Friday, August 1, 2008

Starting a Silverware Tote

I have a set of backpacking silverware (fork, knife, & spoon that all snap together) that I keep in my backpack at work. However, I still keep them in the same plastic case they came in years ago - which is now all torn up. So, I'm going to sew myself a little tote/case!
Prep for silverware case
I'm just going to trace the existing case to create the pattern. The brown polka-dot fabric is for the inside - it's vinyl-coated. The kitchen print, for the outside, has a waffle texture.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Kiss My Grits Completed!

It's done!
Completed & Framed
Just for kicks, here's what the back looks like:
Back of cross stitch

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Turkey Burgers

In my family, the day you do the grocery shopping is called Cornucopia Day, because suddenly the house is filled with delicious fresh food! Saturday is Cornucopia Day for me & Mr. Mongie.
Delicious Burger
So yesterday (Saturday), we had these burgers for dinner. The patties are ground turkey with chopped onion and Worcestershire sauce mixed in. I stumbled on a new technique for mixing it together - I put the onions in the bowl first, then the Worcestershire sauce, so that it soaks partly into the onions. Then I put the meat on top of that and smoosh it all together. This distributes the sauce more evenly than pouring it onto the meat and then mixing. The tomato is an heirloom variety from the supermarket, and the avocado is from a friend with an avocado tree. Both the tomato and avocado had nice strong flavors. Put it all together and you get a yummy, if tall, burger.

Friday, July 25, 2008


Some fabric I ordered came in this week. The four on top are from Reprodepot, and the rest are from Superbuzzy.
New fabrics
I have projects in mind for some of these, but the rest have an unknown destiny!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

For Mr. Mongie

Previous cross stitch project
Here's a project I made for Mr. Mongie a while back. Like the one I'm working on now (for his mother!), the design is from Subversive Cross Stitch.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Kiss My Grits

Cross stitch in progress
This is a cross stitch project I'm making for my mother-in-law for her birthday. The pattern is from the Subversive Cross Stitch book, which she gave me for my birthday! This is the first cross stitch I've made using even-weave linen. I like it - it's really no harder to work with than aida cloth, but the results are nicer.

Saturday, July 19, 2008


Hi there! I have a few craft projects I'm thinking of posting here.