Monday, June 29, 2009

Cruising the web for fun recipes and projects

Coffee Jello!
Video Tutorial

I'm thinking of making Drunken Watermelon Pops for a Fourth of July party.
I think it would be fun to use red, yellow, and orange watemelon chunks

Oh Hell Yeah! Pomegranate Cosmopolitan

Normally I bake cakes from scratch, but this cakebox recipe intrigues me for Lime Kool-aid Cake, from KMOM14.

The cake is on Cut Out + Keep, along with this recipe that I want to try for Worlds Best Brownies

Scrap Projects (bookmark and Itty Bitty Bag) on Scarlet Fig

Make a Fabric Bowl
Tutorial on Imagine Fabric

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Sunday, June 28, 2009

Fun=cramming four girls into a photobooth

Posing in the photobooth

Cramming four girls in a photobooth


Say Cheese!

Photobooths at the Fair

Giggling, making memories...
these old-style analog photobooths are the best part of the fair.

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Friday, June 26, 2009

Fair fun

I still don't have a digital camera, so I use a disposable camera and have the film developed.
My last roll of film had tons of fun pics of the fair, but something happened at processing and the roll was blank.
Such a bummer.

Here are some pics courtesy of my friends debs and Tracie:
Fair Lights

Tracie wanted to win a pig, but didn't.
Janice did win one though!
Tracie wants a pig



Topiary piano

Fir-covered bears


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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Fun Food

One of my favorite gifts to give friends is assembling a collection of items, often with a theme.
For example, when my friend Tracie obtained her black belt, my friend debs and I put together a gift basket (the "basket" in this case was an upturned Powerpuff Girls cap) of Wonder Woman themed items.
Once I gave a bowl, spoon, spatula, all the ingredients, and a recipe for chocolate chip cookies.
I like to give kitchen gadgets with a foodie book (or culinary fiction), and unique food items.

But what I love most of all is finding items with a play on words.
This is sure to bring a smile.
These also make great white elephant gifts.
Here are some fun food examples:

Butt Massage

Spotted Dick

Cock Soup

Cock-a-Leekie Soup

Oh my gosh, hot sauce is a world unto its own.
There are sooo many fun hot sauce labels.
This, however, has to be my favorite:
Red Rectum Hot Sauce

More fun foods here.

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Sunday, June 21, 2009

Photobooth Fun

Squeezing four people into a photobooth can be interesting
Photobooth at the Fair

We had sooo much fun at the San Diego County Fair last night.
As usual, we ate our way through.
At least one of us had: artichoke sandwich, Tasty Chips, onion rings, chili cheese fries, red velvet cupcake, sliced green apple with caramel and nuts, iced coffee with chocolate, and....
chocolate-covered bacon (very good!).

We played Skee ball, and considered the Zipper, but we just aren't as young as we once were.
We used to love the Midway with its lights and excitement, and we used to love visiting the barnyard animals, but now we're just happy to spend time together.
We cruised the vendors and bought goodies, we laughed, we talked...
It was enough.

We'll return another day with our families to view exhibits (I love the wood, the photography, and the garden show).
We'll opt for more fun food, because that is part of the Fair's charm.
I want Indian Fry bread, roasted corn on the cob, and funnel cake.

The Fair is an annual tradition for us that holds quality moments and sentimental magic.

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Recycled Tires

This is a fun recycling idea that I saw at City Farmers Nursery in San Diego.
Certainly better than having the tires go to the landfill

Staircase, or terraced area
Tire Staircase

Recycled Tire Planters

Would be cute with toy or wagon wheels, or even old spoked wheels too.

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Monday, June 15, 2009

Pillow Repair...aka, the dog ate my pillow

Sometimes Reese and Dylan's mom asks me to stop by when she and her husband have long work days, so the boys won't be alone, and so they can play.
Recently, I walked into their house and burst out laughing--
feathers were everywhere.
Far worse than these photos captured

Reese is about the best dog on the planet, but sometimes the temptation to chew things is just too great.
He has destroyed a brand new comforter, a remote control, pillows, etc.
On this day, he chose one of the silk pillows his parents brought back from Thailand.
Oooh, not good.

I decided to repair it for them.

Before, there were two matching pillows on this couchOn the damaged pillow, one corner was completely ripped off, the fabric a shred on the floor.
I cut the pillow down below the ripped portion, and saved any scraps.
I removed the liner pillow, dumped out all the feathers, re-stitched and refilled it
I see repeating circles often in Asian designs, so I used any scraps to cover the bite marks with two sizes of circles.
I concentrated on turning the grain lines so the light would hit the circles differently than the background.
I also concentrated on balancing the size and placement of the circles and rectangles.
Now this travel souvenir still matches its partner, it's just a bit smaller
(click on images to enlarge)

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Tuesday, June 09, 2009


It really made me feel good that my co-worker included the blocks I made in her birth announcement.
Cool, huh?


Friday, June 05, 2009

Mirror, mirror....

Lately I feel as if a number of situations are coming together...conspiring with the make me take notice.
Have you ever stumbled across a comment from a stranger, or a phrase in a book, or something that just seems more than coincidence?
Like all these things, these blips, are part of a puzzle, or pieces in the game of life that God intends for you to see, to feel, to learn?

I've been very introspective lately.
Not so unusual for me maybe, but I've been even more introspective than usual.
I have been an emotional dishrag.
And because I've said many times that blogs are journals that should reflect our real selves, that should delve below the surface...well, it would be pretty hypocritical of me if I didn't occasionally stop here to ponder.
It is still scary, however, to give my feelings a voice.

There are certain things I believe--things that I know to be true--either from a common sense standpoint or my own experience.
Yet in reality, in my own life practice, sometimes I fail to follow these beliefs. Sometimes I hold back subconsciously.
I always say that the body will let you know when something in your life is off.
The body will identify stress and make a part weak, or sick.
It will say, "Kaboom!" if you have a issue that you need to address.

The problem, in my opinion, with today's medical philosophies is that we are inclined to pop painkillers when our bodies ache, anti-depressants when our hearts ache, and schedule surgeries when body parts aren't shiny and new.
We have forgotten how to listen to our signals.
Pains and aches aren't meant to be silenced, but meant to engender response.
To feel. To care for our own needs.

In November of 2003, my father died. Even now I rarely talk about his passing.
Even now I have not ironed out my grief.
Even now the wound still bleeds.
In 2003 I was a size 6. I still felt fat.
In October of 2004, my boyfriend of four years pulled a surprise exit.
My grief expanded. So did my body size.

Fast forward to 2009, and I wear a size 14. At least.
I do not envision myself as fat.
I am always shocked when I see myself in the mirror.
I do not recognize myself. I do not like what I see.
Why do I not feel heavy when I am, and feel fat when I am not?

I have not been in the state of mind to motivate myself to change back to my "normal" self. Why?
I have theorized that subconsciously I gained weight on purpose, in both an attempt to find a man who wasn't concerned with "trivial" stuff like appearance, but also because weight acted as a shield against creepy men or creepy comments, or the possibility of being rejected again.
As much as I preach that I do not want my life to be crippled by fear, fear molds me.

Tonight I watched a documentary of the making of the Broadway musical "In the Heights".
The play was the making of a dream for the cast, the writer, and the director.
At one point an actor said, "Fear is the thing that controls everything in this world. Not God, not love...fear."

Sometimes I feel like I'm 20 years old again, faced with a multitude of choices.
I am still standing at that crossroads, but the intersection is in the middle of the freeway, and all around me life is zooming past.
Zoom, zoom...I am stuck not knowing where to step.
So I have not stepped at all.
Fear of change, of success or of failure. Who knows. Fear.

I have started listening to audio books when I drive, or while I sit for long periods of time sewing.
The last book I heard was "Speak", about a 13 year old girl who is raped, and reacts by becoming mute. By retreating into herself.

If my reactions are silent, my body is not.
About two years ago, I started experiencing problems with fatigue and pain in my right hip.
Last year I finally sought relief by a chiropractor.
He helped, but at too great a cost (literally. I couldn't afford him).
So I recently started going to physical therapy. The therapists also address women's health issues.
These therapists use methods that are rarely (sadly) practiced anymore: manual manipulation.
They use their hands, and they feel.
This is what being an Osteopath used to be. This is a lost art.
The body has a language, but we have forgotten the verbs.

Today the therapist felt my right hip restricting, the organs within tight and unmoving.
Then she said something to me that gathered all these separate blips into one concrete whole.
She had me undress, and when she walked back in the room, she commented about my body language.
Ah, the body talks in so many ways.
Feet crossed, arms crossed...
so many ways we can hollow ourselves out--to become invisible.
It is a language of protection.

I didn't realize I was doing that.
I didn't realize I was afraid. That fear holds me back.
My body is telling me...has been telling me for a long time.
In many ways, I am numb. I am deadened. I am hazy.
But my body is yelling at me to change.

Yes, I have experienced abuse, but it was many years ago.
Yes, I am the epitome of lost dreams and confusion.
I'm not going to whine and tell you that I've had a bad life, because I haven't.
Ironically, when my head hits the pillow I am mostly content.
Why and what do I fear?

I think, perhaps, I am a very sensitive person, and every mean comment, every friend who turned and walked away, every man who lied to all piled up like bits of newspaper coated in paste and covered me in paper mache.
Now I have to find whatever it is I need to break open the allow the treasures within to shine again.
If I find that something...I'll let you know.
But I seem to see light filtering through up ahead.

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Thursday, June 04, 2009

Fresh Strawberry Pie

I have been making fresh strawberry pie for years.
I'm not even sure where I got the recipe, but my mom has it written in the journal she started about 70 years ago, so perhaps it has been around for awhile.
My recipe calls for fresh berries in a pre-baked pie shell, then a gel poured over the top.

My local newspaper prints a Food section every Wednesday.
Last week's section included a recipe for strawberry pie.
Their recipe also makes a gel to pour over fresh berries, but cuts the steps by using a premade pie crust, Jello, and lemon-lime soda.
I had just purchased a case of nostalgic soda pop at Cost Plus World Market, and it contained Bubble-Up, so I thought I'd try this.
Honestly, this couldn't be easier--it came together in a snap.
I used the premade pie crusts from Trader Joes (very good when you're pressed for time and can't make your own).
This recipe is pretty good, but my original is even better.
I'll post both.

Strawberry Pie (from the newspaper)

1 refrigerated pie crust, such as Pillsbury

1/2 cup sugar

2 tablespoons cornstarch (be sure to check expiration date. Old cornstarch will not thicken properly)

1 cup lemon-lime soda, such as 7 Up

1/2 package (3 ounces) strawberry Jell-O (1/4 cup)

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

4 cups fresh strawberries, cut into bite-size pieces

Real whipped cream for topping, to taste

Prepare the crust according to package directions for a baked pie shell. Set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, in a 2-quart or larger saucepan, whisk together sugar, cornstarch and lemon-lime soda. Place over high heat, and bring to a rolling boil, stirring frequently. Boil for 1 minute, or until slightly thick.

Remove from heat, and add Jell-O and lemon juice, stirring well. Set aside to cool. (Consistency will be like warm pudding upon some cooling and will thicken further in refrigerator.)

Rinse and cap strawberries, cutting any large berries into bite-size pieces. Place the berries in the cooled crust, and spoon the filling (it's OK if it is slightly warm) over the berries. Refrigerate until set, at least 1 hour, or up to 8 hours.

To serve, slice the pie and top each serving with whipped cream.

Fresh Strawberry Glazed Pie

1 9-inch baked pie shell (I use this recipe, and have also heard this recipe is excellent. Sometimes I go old school and use lard in my pie crust)

6 cups fresh strawberries (1-1/2 quarts)

1 cup sugar

3 Tablespoons corn starch

1/2 cup water

1 small package (3 ounces) cream cheese, softened
(No, please do not use low fat. eeeww)

Mash enough berries to measure 1 cup.
Stir together sugar and cornstarch.
Gradually stir in water and crushed berries
Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and boils.
Boil and stir one minute.
Beat cream cheese until smooth.
Spread on bottom of baked and cooled pie shell.
Fill shell with remaining berries, arranging in pretty patterns.
Berries can be whole, halved, or both.
Pour cooked berry mixture over top of fresh berries.
Chill at least three hours or until set.
Serve topped with whipped cream.


Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Make a Hummingbird Feeder from a Coke Bottle

This is a fun idea, from the current issue of Birds and Blooms Magazine
--reprinted on their website
(tutorial instructions at the link. Linked with permission)

A Bottle for Hummingbirds

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Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Snail Mail

(post 2 of 4)

Yesterday I posted about my making fabric baby blocks for Amy's son Jacob.
Amy asked for my address, and said she'd send me some goodies as a swap.
Nothing quite like mail, is there?

I don't know what I was expecting, but it sure wasn't what I received.
Holy cow, this girl knows how to give a gift, let me tell you!
I received, not one, but TWO boxes of goodness.

And not just your average goodness either, Amy the quilter sent me a hand made quilt top (King size!), all in aloha fabrics.
It is fan-f-ing-tastic.
I LOVE it!
Aloha Quilt
cocktails, surfing dogs and cats, kitties in grass skirts, hippos at the beach, crabs...
Aloha Quilt detail 1
pails, kitties and palm trees, a really cool sandcastle, Hawaii...
Aloha Quilt detail
There are also fabrics with flamingos, pin-up ladies posing by surfboards, bikini tops, Hawaiian shirts with Woodies, surfboards, kids frolicking at the beach, ships and anchors, a mermaid, and island postcards.

But that's just the beginning!

She also sent miscellaneous fabrics
Three fat quarters of two florals and a star print, and nearly a yard of kitties with pins

She sent fish-themed fabrics (beaucoup yardage!)
The irony is that I have fish fabrics set aside to make a quilt, so these are perfect additions to that project!

She said she started a quilt, but wasn't happy with it, and hoped I could make use of it. I will!

But that's not all!
A cute little storybook about labradors, and lots of crocheted and stiffened snowflakes for winter decorating, as well as three heart ornaments!
Also, a hanger for my purse, with its own little pouch--something I've been wanting for awhile now (hang it off a table at restaurant, for example, so I won't have to put my purse on the dirty floor)

Some awesome greeting cards with a log cabin design done in paper (hmmm...what a good idea), quilting pins (I can ALWAYS use those!), a killer magnetic needle pad (boy, you have no idea how much I need that--I am forever losing my needles), cotton thread for crocheting more snowflakes, and a cute kit to make a flamingo miniature quilt

She also sent a boatload of neckties, already opened up and "guts" removed, ready for cutting up and sewing into projects.
Here are a few of the ones she sent
Now I need to put a back and batting on the quilt top, and finish her blocks.
Thanks Amy!!!!


Monday, June 01, 2009

The making of a project: fabric considerations

(post 1 of 3 or 4)

When I posted the Fabric Baby Blocks that I made for a co-worker's baby, longtime reader Amy, of The Calico Cat, emailed me to ask if I'd make her son a set.
I figured...sure.

I knew that my co-worker's baby's room was paisley, in green and pink, and I knew she loved Amy Butler fabrics, so the blocks came together easily.
Amy didn't really have a theme in mind, only that her son's room is gender neutral, mostly in green and yellow.
She said just make whatever I wanted (I was really surprised she didn't specify cats).

Normally one would think that kind of freedom would be comfortable, but it's pretty typical for me to stress out regardless.
Too, Amy is a quilter--that means she knows fabric and quality, which added more stress into the mix.

Option one that I considered was to again use Amy Butler fabrics, even part of my stash, but to concentrate on the green and yellow patterns

or I considered adding some Tula Pink

or the cool three-dimensional prints by Tina Givens

I ended up abandoning that idea because flowers seemed too girly.
Granted, I knew Amy didn't want trucks, but swirly seemed too far in the opposite direction.

So I thought, maybe Japanese imports.
Can't really go wrong with Japanese imports.
Some of these fabrics are linen--would that be too scratchy?
I decided against a set of fleece blocks, and couldn't resist the imports.

Drool worthy wins out over practical every time!

I started buying a few Fairytale-themed prints from Super Buzzy (they have awesome pirates and robots, but that was too boyish...going for gender neutral for this project)
loooove this Wonderland Tea Party

Little Red Riding Hood

I got this Bambi and Three Little Pigs in brown from Saucy Louise

other fabrics are still on my "gimme" list, like this Kokka Red Riding Hood

Ooh, just found this seersucker pigs

Amy didn't sound completely sold on the fairytale idea, so I switched over to birds instead (ironically, the Tula fabric above is a nest).

But um, I kind-of got carried away.
I ordered 18 fabrics off ebay and etsy, and three birdie ribbons too.
And that's not even buying birdcage, or egg, or nest-themed fabrics!
That's too many, even if I make the blocks spell out Henry Jacob rather than just Jacob.
Again, typical Barb...

So I edited a bit.
I'm still sewing on the blocks and will show the finished goodness in a future post
(this post is long enough now as it is).

Yay, school is out for the summer, so I should be posting more on a regular basis again.

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