Thursday, January 31, 2008

Sassy Subversive Seamsters

I've been poring over Subversive Seamster, a new book by the gals who brought you Sew Subversive. Authors Melissa Alvarado, Hope Meno, and Melissa Rannels co-own the Stitch Lounge in San Francisco and I have to say, I wish I lived closer to the Bay Area so I could drop in. The projects in the book are super-cool, reimagining vintage clothing (for example, turning men's plaid leisure pants into a cute cami or a vinyl tennis racket cover into a checkbook cover).

My favorite part of the book are the first couple of chapters that tell you how to ferret out thrift store finds and how to sew easily and creatively. It's a great resource for every crafter/thrift-store shopper.

I'm even more obsessed with buying a sewing machine.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Rainbow not so brite

My pal Kerry and I headed north on Saturday to Snohomish for a long afternoon of antiquing. We poked around several antique malls. I showed impressive restraint, passing on a Whiting & Davis clutch and a vintage entertaining book. I did pick up a vintage cake carrier (gone are the days of transporting Bundt cakes in brown grocery bags) and some crazy Vera sheets from the 70s (I have a good collection of Vera scarves but this is the first time I've seen her sheets). I'm either going to use the sheets (which curiously match my brown linen quilt) or make them into an apron or something. Aren't they delicious in their brown rainbow-ness?

Friday, January 25, 2008

Girl crushes

I've had a lot of girl crushes in my life: Frances McDormand, my best friend Alison, my stuntwoman pal Danielle Burgio. Heck, I'd go gay for Kate Winslet.

But it seems as if I really go ga-ga for crafty girls and I'm currently crushing on Julie McCullough Kim from Make Shop & Studio in Dallas. She commented on a couple of my blog posts and I just had to track her down and shoot her an e-mail. Cyberstalking would be too strong a word. Surprisingly, she's also from Southwestern Michigan, which must explain her quick wit. We started e-mailing furiously and she's already given me great advice on what sewing machine to buy.

Make sounds like an amazing place for all crafters. Rather than a yarn shop or fabric store, it has a bit of everything for everyone crafty: classes, a boutique, supplies. Why doesn't such a store exist in every city? It seems so logical! If I lived in Dallas, I don't think Julie would ever be able to get me to leave the store. As it is, I don't want to leave the computer, which is silly, I know, as I need my hands occasionally to knit or make jewelry or cook dinner or shoo Mac Daddy to the floor. A girl can dream...

Thursday, January 24, 2008


Mac Daddy had a checkup today and I was really hoping that Queen Anne Animal Clinic would be able to shed some light on his nightime terrorizing. I consulted with Dr. Westerdahl and my trusty vet tech Kay at length about the problem.

No dice.

The only thing I can try is to banish him from the bedroom every night and hope that I reboot his behavior. Dr. Westerdahl said I might have to close up the bedroom and sleep elsewhere at first, since MD is bound to hurl himself at the door and cry until I open up. And we all know my resolve is for sh*t when it comes to him.

He's also gained two pounds, which puts him at the size of a men's jumbo bowling ball. To shut him up, I've been reinforcing his bad nighttime behavior by giving him extra snacklets. I'm going to have to try to stop this as well and it won't be easy. Kay said that it's like Mac Daddy has played the slots and since he won once, no matter how many times he loses, he's going to keep spinning the wet food wheel. Crap.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Apron strings

I learned to operate a sewing machine tonight, thanks to my new pal Sandra Watson. An event planner, she also makes gorgeous reversible aprons and I was keen to learn a new old craft in 2008.

So I went to JoAnn Fabric this weekend and picked up some more of my prairie-meets-the-kitchen-table fabric. As I cruised by the pattern area, I was reminded of looking through giant Butterick pattern books when I was a kid, as I waited for my mom or grandma to finish up at the fabric store. It was sort of magical to find a pattern (illustrated with a groovy 70s style that is still used today) I liked and then look up the packet in the giant drawers. I remember my mom pinning the tissue patterns to far-out fabrics on the living room floor.

I'm ready to pick up where she left off. In addition to fabric, I bought Lotta Jansdotter's Simple Sewing and picked out a cute café apron. Sandra came over with her tote bag filled with sewing machine and various needles, trims, and thread. In an hour and a half (I did all the cutting and pressing last night), I strapped on my new apron. The seams are a bit wonky but I love it. What do you think? Cute, huh?

I can't wait to buy a machine. Anyone got suggestions on what model I should buy as my first sewing machine (please, no Hello Kitty suggestions)? Sandra uses a pedal Kenmore and I have to say, I like the pedal idea. It's old school and will prevent the needle from taking on a life of its own.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Drinking it in

After almost 20 years of drinking two cans a day, I gave up Diet Coke the day before Thanksgiving (an endoscopy revealed eroded areas on my esophogus and stomach, which I don't think the pop was helping). I'm not even craving it all that much and I'm really proud of myself for letting go of this signature vice.

However, in the last week, I've started guzzling Crystal Light iced tea. Is this any healthier? Yeah, no caffeine or carbonation is going down the gullet but oh, the aspartame, the sweet, delicious aspartame!

Monday, January 14, 2008

The face of terror

I know it's hard to believe it when you look in his eyes, but Mac Daddy has been an absolute nightmare during the wee hours. He starts crying and batting my face and trying to nip at my nose or chin to get me up. This was starting around 5:30am or 6 but in the past week, it's been at 3:48am, 1:30am, you get the idea. This has been going on for about six weeks and I'm feeling more and more raggedy.

I thought he was just really eager for his wet food breakfast so I'd get up and give him a snacklet. Well, after hoovering it, he just starts in again. Every couple of hours, he is unrelenting in his attempts to wake me up. All. Night. Long.

In a way, I'm a prisoner in my bed. I feign sleep, trying to breathe regularly and remain absolutely still, because sometimes I can trick him into thinking I'm still asleep and he'll curl up next to me for an hour or two. But while I lay there waiting for him to back off, I'm hyper-aware of him because if he gets to close to my face, I know it's only a matter of time before he goes for my face with his paw or fangs. It's only fun until someone loses an eye, you know?

I have begun to think that he just wants me to get up. The other morning, I got up and moved to the couch. He promptly jumped into bed and sacked out. Does he think I'm trespassing on his turf? What is going on?

Can someone please explain MD's crazy nocturnal behavior? Please? I'm running out of Ambien.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Bundt cake love

A few months ago I attended the Midwest Booksellers Association meeting in Minneapolis, where I met Susanna Short, author of Bundt Cake Bliss. We discussed handing down recipes amongst women in a family; she had to really quiz her mother to get the quantities down for each ingredient. Somehow our generation lacks that gene that just automatically knows to add a quarter cup of softened butter to the mix.

Anyway, it got me to thinking how much I love Bundt cakes and how I didn't have a Bundt cake pan.

So I asked for one for Christmas and my brother Chris came through. Here's my third attempt in four days. The first was a cinnamon strudel cake with a cinnamon glaze I made for a baby shower. Yum. The second was a lemon cake for New Year's Eve. It was so-so, but the fresh raspberries elevated it. This is a double chocolate cake with a vanilla glaze and sprinkles.

Next up: rum cake.

A sampling of my books