Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Purple Flu-Scarf

Finished the Purple Flu-Scarf last night while watching Dexter. It's a little bit short...but I ran out of yarn, and thought I could use a really short scarf. I have zillions of huuuuuuuge and chunky scarves that go down to my knees. Yes, I like to be warm, but I do admit you'll sometimes see the scarf before you see's a little bit ridiculous. I imagine myself on one of those make over shows and the hosts/fashion divas are throwing my big scarves in the bin while shaming me for wearing them.

Here is the scarf:

It's not blocked yet, but I'm going to wear it today, anyway. The brooch is there to keep it in place, since it is so short and because I love pairing scarves with big, costume-y brooches!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Amy Butler's LOVE Collection

I have been keeping an eye out for pretty, but hardy fabric. I have a friend who is expecting and, being a fan functional gifts, I have been thinking of making her a diaper bag. I checked out Amy Butler's LOVE collection today, and guess how I feel about it? All of it is adorable!

As painful as it is, I think I am going to avoid pink or any pattern that is too precious, since we don't know the sex of the baby yet and my friend already has a cute little daughter - needless to say, she is already surrounded by pink and precious goodies, so something different would be nice. Plus, the fabric needs to match the mom's sassy-ness, because she will be the one that carries it.

So far, I think I like these two fabrics from the LOVE collection for this project.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Oh, Shatner...Have You Lead Me Astray?

The day has finally come...I thought it would never happen to me...
But was I just internet-scammed??

The story: I booked airline tickets from Priceline and while I was done with my online order, a pop-up from another company called Great Fun appeared asking me whether I would be interested in getting rebates, deal alerts, and coupons. I was intrigued (and foolish) enough to click the link to their site, and filled out my name and address, thinking they would just mail me coupons here and there.

I did not fill out any of my credit card information at this Great Fun site, which I now know is an 'affiliate' of, but separate company from Priceline. But somehow, they still obtained this info from Priceline and was able to charge $11.99 on my credit card without my authorization.

When they charged this, my bank sprang into action and called me - this company is on their blacklist for customer complaints. I then called them to express my grief and to cancel my 'membership' immediately. It was no fun process...but it is done. There seems to be a lot of complaints all over the internet about this Great Fun and their sneaky, scam-y charges. Grrrr. Some people have had this small amount charged every month for years, without their knowledge.

This was the first time I booked something through a third party, like Priceline...and I don't think I will do it again. I really can't trust giving my personal and credit card information to agents that may give it out to other parties.

I apologize for this bummer post - but I was curious whether there are others out there that had similar experiences.

On a happier note: I am making a butternut squash soup today, so I can't wait for that! I will be picking up some crystallized ginger and heavy cream for toppings :-)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Hallow's Eve

Am I silly for my love of turning back the clock for one hour each time this year? I slept in, AND got up at a non-embarassing 9.a.m. on a Sunday morning. Hooray to that ~

I hope everyone had a really great Halloween this year!

I was still pretty sick, so I stayed in with my blanket and hot apple cider all Halloween night. It was not all bad because a) I did have a fellow flu-infected victim to loaf about with me while everyone else we know partied the night away. I had planned to do some work last night, but we just ended up watching old, cheesy horror films on cable all night. And b) we had lots and lots of whipped cream on our hot apple cider.

Here is what I have been working on for the past two nights. Would it be gross to call it my purple flu-scarf?
I was hoping for Hocus Pocus to be on T.V. - I feel like it's always playing on Halloween...but no luck for us. I think it's still my favorite Halloween cheese movie (even though it's not even horror). We watched Bram Stoker's Dracula instead - it was more gory than I remembered (remember when vampires were still gory and scary?) and Keeanu Reeve's English accent was ridiculous and adorable.

Friday, October 30, 2009

From my quarantined cell...

Love the Fall...but not so much a fan of the flu season that comes along with it.

I am a piece of cake for flu viruses; I have no immune system to speak of, so when people around me were getting sick, I knew my time has come. So, here I am - in my pjs, robe, bear feet slippers, and my flu kit (which consists of cough drops, an array of drugs, my herbal pal, yogurt, and Sleepy Time Extra). But it could be worse, because I'm still knitting...

I found this fun yarn in my random yarns basket - it's Sensations: Bamboo and Ewe Pattern. The colors are quite pretty, and I started a knit and purl thing - something simple and within the capabilities of my flu-addled brain. I think I'm going to end up with a scarf! Hopefully, I'll have something good enough to post tomorrow.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Fiend is Back *shame and embarrassment*

The shame and embarrassment is for abandoning this blog for so long...thinking that I don't have enough time...and not thinking about knitting, or crocheting, or embroidering, or blogging for a while might give me more time to be a responsible person who takes cares of life matters and maintains meaningful relationships with others.

But Fall is upon us, and I can't help but start knitting again. What a fool I am for thinking I can avoid the knitting bug this year!

Very excited to see what others are knitting this year...and to see what some of my projects will turn out. Christmas is almost here, and my workshop is busy as heck getting these presents on the road!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Fat Fiend

I have not worked out since I arrived in California...about 2 weeks ago. I have also been gorging on my mother's delicious cooking, eating disgusting fast food and processed meals (when we are on the road with not much of a choice), or stuffing my face with dim sum.

Other than the walking when we are out and about, sightseeing, I'm pretty much sitting on my rump all day. Rocking out with a small, plastic guitar with Rock band cannot really qualify as much of a physical exertion, sadly.
I know I should just lay back and enjoy my little piggy vacation..I can't help but notice my lowering energy level, my crankiness, and my feeling of bloat-y fatness.

I had hoped to be able to have access to a gym, but have been prepared to give up on the idea if it is too much work than it is worth it. I don't get to see my family very much; the last time I saw my parents was last year, and I probably won't see them again for another year. This vacation is about being with family, so I decided if I have to go through the process of joining a gym for a month, drive through traffic, work out, then drive through traffic would not be worth it. I do miss going to the gym for some "me time"...but I can wait until vacation is over. I shall waddle off the plane, and be ready to gym it up with a vengeance.

Vegas Winnings!

This is what we won after a night of gamblin' in Vegas. Wooo hooooooo. Money in the bank ~~

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Fiend, back from Vegas

So...we're back from Vegas. I am pooped.

We stayed at the Venetian, we walked down Las Vegas Blvd and watched the shows in front of the Bellagio, Treasure Island, and The Mirage, we shopped, we went to the Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam, we took many silly pictures and did a lot of people-watching.

Now, back in L.A., I am recharging before we go to San Francisco.

Do I need a vacation from my vacation?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Fiend in L.A.

Yay! The Crafty Fiend finally has some internet! Hip hip hooray!

The family vacation is going well...we are staying in Walnut, L.A., which is basically Little Taiwan. My parents have found old school Taiwanese cuisine here that they were not able to find in Taiwan! My aunt just retired and is moving here for a few months to improve her English...however, she has yet been in a situation where she is forced to speak English since everyone here speaks Chinese Mandarin.

Family vacations are trying at times...we're all cooped up in an apartment, jetlagged, exhausted, and irritable...but everyone makes up at dinner time. Cooking and eating bring people together, no matter how cranky they are!

We have just gotten back from a weekend at the fair city of San Diego. I'm always the happiest when I am by an ocean, so I was a happy camper. We visited the San Diego Zoo, Sea World, and the tackiest, but fun, tikki-themed restaurant where all the servers wore Hawaii shirts.

Tomorrow, we are headed for Las Vegas for two nights, so...wish me luck!

Hopefully, I can get my paws on some pictures and videos soon for the blog :-)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Fiend on Vacation

I have been guilty of being neglectful of my blog, running around getting everything done so I can go on vacation in L.A. without any worries. Leaving your life for three weeks is never as easy as it should be...who knew going on vacation requires so much work!

This time, after much internal debate, I have decided on not bringing any crafts with me on vacation. The main reason is that when I travel alone, which I do often :-(, I try to go as light as possible. Even after sacrificing many, many things I want to bring with me, I am still stuck with a (big) laptop, a carry-on purse/bag, and a luggage which I checked. Lugging around these three items through the airport sucks. That is why I was more than willing to shill out the $25 for three hours to use the reLAX lounge (LAX airport, reLAX lounge, get it? heh? heh?) while I wait for my parents to arrive from their international flight. The only downside is that the lounge allows me full access to all the chocolate chip cookies and chex mix that I can I think I will have to exercise some sort of self-restraint to not result in some sort of junk-food-binge tragedy.

Going back to my decision to not bring any crafts (boooooo, slightly regretting now):
I had wanted to bring my knitting with me onto the plane, since it's my preferred project-on-the-go, after crocheting. Crocheting, however, usually require some scissors and needles, which are prohibited on the plane, so knitting would be the second best choice. Afterall, if you really want to keep it simple, all you need in order to knit is two knitting needles and a ball of yarn. I researched on the internet (o, the mighty internet) for airlines' policy on knitting needles...and it seemed like it was a O.K., but I did come across some knitters who posted about problems going through security with their needles.

Personally, I have never brought knitting with me onto the plane before, but I have had experience with bringing medication which was O.K.ed according to the rules/regulations, but the officers at security still gave me trouble over it. I decided I don't want the stress of catching a flight, going through security, and add issues over knitting needles to the mix. The last thing I want to do is having to either toss my knitting, or mail it to myself at the airport. So, to be on the safe side, I just decided to leave it at home...and go on this vacation sans crafts projects.

I suppose I will commit my next three weeks to enjoying some summer reads in the sun, and enjoying California. I will TRY and stay away from crafts stores...and give my inner crafty fiend a break. Who knows, maybe I will go back to NY all full of new creative ideas!

Meanwhile, I hope to fill my blog with some good summer read reviews, and maybe some of my adventures in L.A.

Before I sign off...I have a question for everyone. What is your preferred bring-along project for airplanes? Has anyone ever made the mistake of bringing something in their crafts bag that was a no-no?

Sunday, September 6, 2009


Sunday is probably my favorite day. Unlike Friday and Saturday, it is my shamelessly lazy and I-do-whatever-I-want day. As much as I like weekend errands like grocery shopping and visiting the farmer's market, and catching up with friends over coffees/drinks/ dinner/etc., on Sundays, I am not pressured to work or party.
To me, it is a day for spending time with loved ones - a nice way to end the week. Growing up, my parents and I always get dim sum on Sunday morning, then go grocery shopping together.

Now, I usually cook a yummy dinner, and veg out on the couch with my bf and on-demand a show (since the new seasons of Dexter and Californication are still not out yet, we're watching Nurse Jackie). Dishes that require long hours of marinating, braising, or roasting, have no place in a busy this is usually the day I take my sweet time, and cook something time consuming, while I lounge around the pad.

This Sunday, has been uber-lazy. I slept in, met the bf for lunch, then went to the gym to find out that it was closed for Labor Day. Booohoooo...or teeeheeee? It was a pretty good excuse to be off the hook for working out today, but I ended up going for a run. Now, I dislike all the conditions must be perfect in order for me to volunteer to do it. I like to run outside, because treadmills bore me, and I prefer running when it is cool out. I have to shamefully admit, we live right next to a city park, and our pretty neighborhood is all sidewalks and trees, but I don't go running often. When my girl friend talks about braving traffic, uneven sidewalks, and even, once, HAIL, to finish her run...I hang my head in shame.
I have no idea how far I ran today; I wasn't keeping track and just went at my own pace, and had quite a fun run (haha). So, I think I shall make it my fall+early winter fitness goal to go out and run more. I think I'm going to set goals, and, if I make them, I will reward myself with a new pair of running shoes. Hoorah!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Aren't these so cute?

I saw these on Etsy seller aimoobaroo's page, and I can't handle it. It's so cute! I don't usually have projects that require buttons, but these make me want to start one so I have an excuse to buy them!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Braised Pork Shoulder

The pork shoulder have always been a cut of meat I wanted to learn to prepare. It is shamelessly fatty and flavorful (my favorite kind of meat), but does require some patience for it to transform from tough and chewy to melt-in-your-mouth. You know if you do it right, it will be delicious.
The common methods of preparing pork shoulders are braising, roasting, and barbecue. I chose the braising route this time, but barbecue is something I vow to attempt in the future. Cuban barbecue pork shoulder? Mmmmmmm!!!

I bought the smallest pork shoulder I could find in the store, and it was 7.8 lbs. I repeat, 7.8 lb chunk of meat. I have never felt like such a carnivore until I had to haul that heavy a piece of meat home.

Apple Cider Braised Pork Shoulder

7.8 lb pork shoulder
salt and freshly-ground pepper
canola oil
one large onion, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
1 potato, unpeeled and chopped
1 tablespoon butter
3-4 cups apple cider
5 juniper berries
1 teaspoon dried thyme
8 peppercorns
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon chili pepper flakes
4 fresh sage leaves
8 whole cloves

Rub the meat with salt and pepper and canola oil, then sear the meat in a cast-iron skillet, at medium-high heat, until it is nicely browned on all sides. As you can see in the picture, the shoulder barely fit in the skillet. I should have used my largest one!

When the meat is nicely browned, about 8-10 minutes, place it in a large pot. I could not find my Dutch oven, which would have been perfect, and used a large oven-proof oven soup pot instead. The meat was so heavy I had to hoist it out of the skillet and into the pot with both tongs and a meat fork.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Once the meat is in the pot, I added the chopped carrots, onions, and potatoes into the skillet so they cook in the remaining oil and fat. I want to make a note that organic carrots always works best, since they are always so much sweeter and flavorful than non-organic carrots. You may add salt and pepper to your taste, and the tablespoon of butter (salted or unsalted), and sautee until the carrots and potatoes are soft. Scoop up the carrots and potatoes and add it to the large pot with the pork, and let the onions cook a little longer until it has caramelized. Add the onions to the pot.

Add the rest of the ingredients (apple cider and spices) into the pot, and place in the middle of the oven. Let braise for about 6-7 hrs. If you don't want to use an oven, you can also braise this stove-top at very low heat. While it is cooking, check to see whether you need to add more liquids - the liquid should almost cover the meat.

Because my cut of meat was so big, I had to braise it for about 6.5 hrs (I would have braised it a little longer, but the hunger whines were getting out of control). I served it over some white rice, and sprinkled with some chopped green onions. The leftovers were delicious too, sitting in the fridge overnight, then being reheated softens the pork even more, giving it a melt-y texture.
(I sort of just threw everything on a plate and snapped a quick picture, so I apologize if it's not the prettiest looking thing - we were all very hungry, and the house smelled divine when the meat cooked the whole 6 hrs.

Fingerless Glove For the Fall

I have been running around like a crazy person for the last few days, getting everything together before I leave for my month-long vacation with the family next week. But, sneakily, September has rolled around - therefore, marking the official ending of summer. How did this happen? I can't help but feel a little bit sad.

To cheer myself up, I set aside a few hours this evening and did some knitting. I'm embarrassed to say that I had to hunt for my knitting needles, which were scattered throughout the apartment. So, my new knitting-year resolution is to get organized and find some sort of vessel to keep them all in once place. When I did the double-pointed needles I needed, I made a fingerless glove with some forest green yarn I had laying around (I'm also using it to crochet a blanket).
It's my little secret (seeeeecreeeeeets), that I usually prefer knitting fingerless gloves and mittens because I'm not in love with making glove fingers...but they do offer other pros too! My hands get ice-cold in the winter, so I wear fingerless gloves indoors to keep them warm. I can type, knit, stitch, and whatever else I please while still keeping my hands warm, and that makes me a happy gal.

I was only goofing about when I made this glove, but I ended up being very happy with the results. I liked the forest/army green and how the cable down the middle turned out (it was a four-rib braid). I still need to bind the end and block the glove...and of course make the second one as well. Or I can just wear one fingerless glove, and look like a superhero.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Men Who Knit

The topic of gender-appropriate play and activities came up today, specifically with children, came up at

I commented and threw in my two cents - and I would like to add that upon consulting my boyfriend (after I had posted), he reminded me that he did not just play with My Little Pony's, but also wore his grandmother's clip-on earrings. That's what's awesome about children - they are truly free (or should be) to explore whatever they please, because they have not yet learned social roles and constraints.

So, this leads me to a thought: I don't have any male friends that knit! I know there are many men out there who knit - enough that there are books published and online communities formed, but why is it while all my female friends either knit or feel that they would like to learn to knit, none of my male friends would even admit any interest. I'm pretty sure having a pair of ovaries does not automatically give you the desire to knit. So...I'm going to make an arrogant statement and claim that these male friends (or at least some) may enjoy knitting, if given the opportunity, as much as I do, they just can't partake because it's not o.k.

This is why I've always appreciated these men who knit communities...knitting is therapeutic and is an artistic and creative expression...why can't men do it? You should never have to be painted as effeminate and bizarre because of what makes you happy.

And here I am complaining when people laugh at me for knitting because I am young and should be "out there enjoying life" i.e. partying and dancing on a bar. I guess I'll shut up about that now.

Monday, August 31, 2009

I Heart Knitted Ties

Since you don't want to overwhelm a beautiful suit with too many accessories, ties are easily the one accessory guys can use to add a little bit of oomph, and for some personal expression, in their ensemble. I'm a sucker for an elegant suit with a gutsy tie.

The bf recently got a skinny black knit tie from Hugo Boss and is waiting for the fall to wear it (which is coming real soon). I think it would look great against a crisp, white shirt, and under a dark suit. I have always had a soft spot for skinny knitted ties...maybe because it's kind of preppy, or because of it's romantic or vintage feel...I'm not sure...I just love it. However, I think a knit tie can be a little more challenging to wear than a regular tie. It looks more casual, so you want one that is clean (not frumpy) to go with a suit...and even cleaner if you want to pull it off with a casual outfit (e.g. with jeans and a sport coat). For me, there is a line between looking well-dressed and pretentious (or...too hip?), so pulling off a tie casually does require some thought. And before you think I'm too harsh or "not cool" about wearing a tie casually, I must defend myself and say there is nothing I hate more than the tie and t-shirt combination. I'm thrilled the trend is pretty much dead now; when it was all the rage, I wanted to gag every time I see someone rocking it. May it never revive itself. Ew.
When it comes to knit ties, I think it always looks great under a skinny suit, a preppy cardigan, or a nice dress shirt, but I must also say everyone has their own style and can pull off different things - so you should just wear it in whatever creative way makes you happy, as long as you can pull it off with confidence.

O.K. enough of that. The reason why I am all excited about knitted ties is that it's almost fall and I need to get my knitting fix soon. I would love to attempt to knit a tie and convince/bully/threaten/coerce the bf into wearing it. According to an online forum, a knitted skinny tie should measure between 2.25 to 3 inches in width. Any skinnier would look too outdated and any wider would look frumpy. My favorite skinny knit tie colors are probably burgundy, navy, and dark my project would be one of these colors. I can choose to knit it plain, or with stripes or polka dots (it actually is very cute), and even argyle or fair isle. I even saw(online) a very nice knitted tie with embroidery on it. The possibilities are endless! So, I'm on the lookout for a fine cotton, silk, or cashmere yarn. I can't wait to start knitting again!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Progress in the Pillowcase

It's been a pretty busy weekend, so I haven't really had the chance to work on my pillowcase embroidery. Friends and family is really cutting into my crafting/hermit time.

I managed to set aside my Sunday morning for some coffee and embroidering, which was nice :-)
As evident in the amount of purple markings all over the fabric, I doodled a bunch before deciding to abandon embroidering a monogram, and chose to stitch some pretty flowers and greenery instead. That dark, inky green is one of my favorite colors of all time, but I chose to keep the flowers a light color so the deer can still stand out. I was going to add spots on the deer, but changed my mind because I really like its simplicity.

Stitching the decorative flowers is so much fun. I love the freedom to be able to stitch whatever feels and looks right - it's almost like doodling. I'm also not militant about having every petal and leaf stitched to look identical, I like the organic look it creates when they are slightly different sizes. I adore how french knots (notice the beaucoup french knots) add texture, and I love running my fingers over them. I am, however, a little bit nervous about stitching the other side of the deer. I am crazy about balancing things, so I'll probably try and mirror the other side as much as possible, which means less doodling and more paying attention. Bah...
I'm going to have to be careful about not adding any more details before I end up embroidering the entire pillowcase. I never know when to stop!

Hopefully, it'll turn out fine.

Now, I'm off to visit our local city art festival; a friend is working a stall there distributing info to people on how live in a more eco-friendly manner - yay, go friend! The weather is so crummy, I cannot believe I'm going to have a throw on a wooly coat and a thick scarf for a summer festival. Bah, again! On a happier note, if things go my way, I'll find a good pork shoulder at the store for dinner tonight. festival and pork shoulder...a little bit of an adventure.

Friday, August 28, 2009


The weather has changed and it seems like, all of a sudden, autumn is here. Oh no...where did my summer go??

I guess it's not all bad. I cooked up a big pot of chicken soup last night with barley and all sorts of vegetables - so I spent a lazy, chilly afternoon listening to Iron & Wine, eating soup, sipping countless mugs of piping hot tea, and working on my pillowcase. I plan to embroider a deer, then stitch a monogram underneath it. I used a disappearing ink pen for fabrics to outline my deer, which, I must add, was not kidding about the "disappearing"! The ink was actually vanishing faster than I had thought it would, so it felt like a race against time trying to embroider the outline before it disappears. Talk about X-treme embroidery!

And, I know, the cup of hot tea so close to my embroidery makes me cringe too. I have had a tragic incident where my coffee spilled onto an almost finished embroidery project, completely ruining it. You'd think I'd learn my lesson, right? I simply cannot resist hot beverages when I'm working on's terrible.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Shop Update

I have been having a lot of fun with my Etsy shop: ItsyBitsyKC . I only have a few things listed for sale now, but I have a number of future projects I would like to post on Etsy that I am pretty excited about. So far, I have seven different hand-made greeting cards in my shop - all of them involving some kind of bead-work or ribbon embroidery.

My personal favorites are probably the Elephant, the Skull, and the Snail. I just listed the Egg in Nest cards today, and I really like the colors on them as well. I do struggle a little with my camera-work. I am often bummed out because the beautiful colors does not always come out in the pictures. I think I still need to work on my lighting, or finding a little nook where lighting is consistant and not so bright that it washes out the colors, but bright enough to take a good picture.

I am hoping (near) future projects can include some custom monogrammed pillowcases. I have an adorable fawn crewel embroidery pattern I am dying to try out. Now, if only there were more hours in a day...and if only my crafts table had more room...

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Me Break Threader

I took my new threader out of its packaging today, and, as I tried to use it to thread a needle for some crewel embroidery, I pulled it apart into two pieces.

I am strong like bull.

Or...I may have bought a bad threader? It was a cheapie, so I'm not even motivated enough to take it back to the store. And I will admit I may have been strong like bull and just tore that sucker into two with my brute strength. That's a little bit embarrassing.

My Snail Card

I love snails, so naturally, I had to make a snail-themed card.

When we lived in Indonesia, we would find gigantic snails in our garden and patio - Seriously, these snails are as big as your hand. One of my favorite memories is that of my mama showing how you can gently touch the ends of their little feelers and watch them retract and come out. They would go up and down, and I thought that was hilarious and would be incredibly amused (no, it's really funny!). I have often showed this trick to childhood friends, but I never got a positive response..."Ew, you're gross" and "Lets find something better to do" were common responses.

Whatever. I still think it's so funny, and I still have a soft spot for snails of any size. And I most certainly will chuckle shamelessly at childhood memories of snail-harassment, if I please!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Boy, prepare my thimble!

I have never really used a thimble when sewing before. I tried out a flimsy plastic one once, but it just kept falling off my finger and slowing me down - so I've never had much interest in trying again.

Recently, I started to sew again and my finger has been taking a lot of abuse...I was in enough pain that I abandoned this mode of X-treme stitching and bought a thimble. I went to Jo-Ann and it was a little bit of a challenge to find the right thimble, because there are so many choices. There were plastic ones, metal ones, leather ones, plastic ones that you can put in the microwave and melt so it will conform to the shape of your finger, ones that have an open top so youre manicure stays nice...There was also the issue of size - I have freakishly short and small fingers, so I knew I had to find one that would cling to my finger very well.

In the end, I purchased the economical $4.99 (I figured if the decision was a failure, I won't be too sad) Dritz leather thimble. It is impressive in size because it almost covers your entire finger, and it makes me feel pretty invincible..I feel like I ought to go out and fight a duel, or command a hawk to land on my finger. Its stretchy band wraps pretty snugly around the finger so there is no slipping off or moving about, which I love, and there are even two little 'breathing holes' at the end of the thimble so your finger does not get sweaty and gross. The leather did need to be broken-in; it was quite stiff when new, but after about an half an hour of sewing it conformed to the shape of my finger, and is now pretty much my very own custom thimble.

So, all in all, I am pleased with my choice.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Cooking Diaries: Portabella Mushroom Dinner

I love to cook. Some nights, I will be in the kitchen roasting the perfect chicken or stirring a risotto for dinner...but some nights, I am not in any mood to perform any sort of labor over food.
Tonight is such a night.

I have a few trusty recipes for these lazy-bum nights, but I have also just peered into the fridge and thrown anything edible into a large pan. Mmm...frozen peas, tofu, and cabbage, anyone? Since we have been trying to eat vegetarian meals at least twice a week, for health and environmental reasons, I decided to make a meal out of the portabella mushrooms I had on hand. Everything else involved is pretty much staples in my pantry and freezer - they are always available and ready-to-use (love it).

Here is my Cheesy Portabella Mushroom Dinner (for 2). Be warned: this is the ultimate lazy-bum dinner, if you are a food snob looking for a pretty dinner, look away, because it will upset you. Though, I do promise that it is cheesy and delicious.

The Ingredients:
Olive oil, salt and pepper
2 portabella mushrooms, caps removed (you can just gently pop it off)
Some marinara sauce (optional)
Some red pasta sauce of your choice
Some shredded mozarella
Pasta of your choice (something small and sturdy is best, e.g. campanelle, rotini, penne, etc.)
Frozen, chopped spinach
Asiago cheese (or whatever hard cheese you may have on hand, optional)
2 tablespoons butter

1) Bring a pot of water to boil - add salt and (a little) oil to the water. When the water boils, cook the pasta according to package instructions.

2) Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large skillet over high heat (enough for sauteeing), and add the portabella mushrooms. You want to keep the heat as high as you can without burning the mushrooms, so they stay juicy. After about 2-3 minutes, flip the mushrooms and let them finish cooking for another 2-3 minutes. Salt and pepper the mushrooms to your taste.

3) Spread 3-4 tablespoons of marinara (or if you don't have marinara on hand, just use the red sauce you have ready) onto each mushroom. Sprinkle shredded mozarella on top of the mushrooms, about 1/4 cup each - depending on the size of the mushrooms. Divide/cut 1 tablespoon of butter into little pieces and put on top of the mozarella, toss the other tablespoon of butter into the pan. Turn the heat down to low and cover. If you cooked this in an iron skillet, you can also stick it in the oven at this point. Cover until the cheese is melted.

4) When the pasta is cooked, drain and return to the pot. Add the amount of red sauce you like, and stir in about 1/2 cup of frozen, chopped spinach. Stir over low heat until everything is heated through. Serve with the cheesy mushrooms.

A nice mesclun salad would be great with this meal. I, unfortunately, did not have any salad on hand :-(
Because this is a lazy-bum recipe, my instructions are lazy-bum instructions. It is a simple dinner so just eye-ball the measurements.

The Aspiring Quilter Diaries

I am in love with jelly rolls.

The strips of gorgeous fabrics cut and rolled into one magnificent bundle, then given the appropriately delicious name: jelly roll. Mmmmmm. Nom nom nom nom.

Being new at quilting, the jelly roll is especially attractive because most of the cutting and fabric-matching has already been done for you - making a quilting project much less daunting. After muchos browsing, I ended up buying Pam and Nicky Lintott's Jelly Roll Quilts. The book teaches you how to make at least sixteen different quilts. The instructions are simple and easy-to-follow, so no matter how complicated a quilt looks, I can still imagine myself making it.

So...I decided on making the Spiral Stripes Quilt from Jelly Roll Quilts, using a jelly roll from Moda's Gypsy Rose line of fabrics. And this is where I made a stupid mistake while buying my "jelly roll" from an Ebay seller. This mistake resulted in a fair amount of disappointment and frustration, and I am certainly put in my place as a new (and gullible) quilter. However, I did learn a lesson, and maybe will share this lesson in the next diary entry (when the bitterness and embarassment subsides).

Despite this hiccup, I am still in love with jelly rolls, and I am still an aspiring quilter. *cue Scarlett O'Hara fist-shake*

Friday, August 21, 2009

Sewing Machine Fun.

My obsession over making shiny, pretty things has been revived recently with the introduction of a sewing machine. A nice lady I know was cleaning out her garage (she's moving), and she dug out her long-forgotten/forsaken sewing machine. Like many sewing machines, this one was purchased with many hopes and dreams. Sadly, after some blood, sweat, and tears involved in trying to master its functions, it was banished into the corner of the garage, never to be talked of again.

I have been longing for a sewing machine for some time, but was hesitant to drop a wad of cash on the wrong machine. I knew I needed one that is good enough to work well, but I would only need basic functions since I'd use it mostly to make quilt tops. So, when she was kind enough to pass this (free) machine onto me, I was happy. It is a Kenmore, and pretty basic in its functions - which is perfect for a sewing machine novice like me. It no longer had a manual, but I was still able to figure out how to wind a bobbin, thread the machine, adjust the tension, sew, etc. via the internet (thank you YouTube and

Maybe my next project can be a set of napkins (and possibly even napkin rings!!) and placemats for some friends that just bought a new home. Now I just need to be on the lookout for some pretty fabrics....